Union educators from the Early Learning Center were joined by parents/caregivers, as well as MEA members from MHS, Beebe, Ferryway, Forestdale, and Salemwood tonight during the School Committee meeting. Educators and parents spoke about the need for increased staffing at the ELC to meet the needs of the youngest learners in the district.
“And despite our years of pleading with district administration to staff our program appropriately, we have had to shift our focus from providing our students with a meaningful education, to just trying to keep our students safe. So I am here tonight to ask you to invest in our youngest, most vulnerable students. I am asking you to appropriately staff the ELC, so that our students can not only be safe, but can receive the education that they deserve.”
“Given the increasing intensity of needs, 9 students in a classroom may be the law but it absolutely does not meet the needs of our students. Students are not consistently receiving the services that they are legally entitled to in their IEPs. The focus is on managing the classroom leaving little time to actually teach students the skills they need to integrate which is always the end goal.”
“The numbers of students we start with in September significantly increase throughout the year as students turn 3 years old. The district needs to start looking at the projected number of students entering the ELC throughout the year and plan accordingly. Year after year we get to the point where our classrooms are full, even though we know more students are coming. We are almost at this point now! We are running out of space and staff to appropriately service and provide students with the robust education they are entitled to.”
“We have classrooms that are without a teacher and have been without a licensed special education teacher for months. Those classrooms are understaffed and unsafe. We have staff members who are not able to take their lunches/preps/or breaks on a daily basis because there is no one who can cover for them to leave the classroom. These staff are prioritizing keeping our students safe by maintaining a fully staffed classroom over eating lunch on a daily basis. Students are not receiving services because our related service providers are conducting evaluations on new students to determine eligibility for special education services as we accept students the day they turn 3. These evaluations are conducted during the school day and require them to miss servicing the students who are currently enrolled in our program.”
“Leadership of the Association, as well as our rank-and-file members, stand at the ready to do what we can to ensure students get what they need and what they deserve because we believe that the zip code of our students shouldn’t determine the level of education they receive.”