School district to hire back six para-educators

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Of the 17 para-educators laid off this summer, six will be hired back to the Albert Lea school system, the school board decided Monday night.

The decision is a result of money allocated by the federal Department of Education, and includes enough money to hire six para-educators to work with special-education students.

&uot;It makes us feel a lot better,&uot; said David Prescott, superintendent of Albert Lea schools.

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He said the school will post the positions internally, allowing current para-educators to change positions, and then six positions will be offered to the laid-off paras with the most seniority. With school starting in a few weeks, he said hiring will be made easier because of the qualified and unemployed paras in the community, although he said some have already found work.

Prescott said the hires will help special education students and will free up teachers to spend more time with other students.

The decision will not affect the Title I program which offers tutoring to students who need extra help with math and reading. Its funding was cut this year.

Keith Erickson, director of special services for Albert Lea schools, said the board had waited to approve the positions until they knew exactly how much federal money they’d receive for the special education program.

In other school board news,

-Students who qualify for reduced-priced breakfasts will be served at no charge this year, and the price of breakfast will decrease from $1.00 to 60 cents for other students. The change is the result of an increase in state reimbursement.

-Students in grades 1-6 who live outside a mile of their schools will receive bus service. Under altered bus rules that were in place last year, the minimum distance had been two miles from school. The school was able to make the change because of funds received through an operating levy approved by voters in a referendum last fall.

In addition, no student will have to walk more than one half-mile to a bus stop in the city. The distance had been one mile.

(Contact Tim Sturrock at tim.sturrock or 379-3438.)