When Cityline reviewed the proposed Hartford schools budget, it noticed that special education staff was taking a big hit across the board.
Well, as it turns out, we were right.
And now, the district is asking some schools to add more special education teachers.
A school district review of school budget proposals and federally mandated learning plans for special education students found that principals' budgets were short almost 19 special education teachers.
Miriam Morales-Taylor, the assistant superintendent for learning support services, presented a report to the board of education Tuesday night that said her office has asked school principals to add 18.5 special education positions across the board. (The 158.85 special education staff members will cost the district $15.6 million.)
"The majority of our principals did a good job," said Morales-Taylor, but some had underestimated how many special education teachers they would need.
Weaver High School's 11th- and 12th-grade academy, for example, needed to add three more special education teachers, according to Morales-Taylor's report. Morales-Taylor told the board that the district's student-based budgeting formula allocates additional funds for educating special ed students, so the schools would have enough to pay for the teachers.
But school board member Elizabeth Brad Noel said the money was present in the budgets when principals worked out their proposals, so she wondered what would have to be cut to make room for the additional teachers.
"The point of the audit," said Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski, "is to ensure the funds are being used the way they're supposed to be used."
The district also checked to make sure principals had enough teachers for English language learners. Bethany Silver, the deputy chief academic officer, reported to the board that principals had accurately budgeted for the ELL staff.