March 22, 2024: Special Education Staffing Process Update

March 22, 2024: Special Education Staffing Process Update

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March 22, 2024

Dear Northshore Families of Students Receiving Special Education Services:  

There have been a number of family and staff questions about our special education staffing approach in light of next year’s budget shortfall. This communication is to clarify the District’s process, intention, and dispel any rumors. 

As you are aware, next year we will have less budget flexibility than ever before. This means that we must be more disciplined and targeted in where we allocate resources beyond our contractual agreements. This has not been our District approach in previous years, and some might argue part of the reason we are in this financial position. 

Strong school-based staffing processes begin with a baseline allocation formula. Our formulas are outlined in our contractual agreements with Northshore Education Association (NSEA). For special education, the ratios are provided for each service delivery model and haven’t changed for 2024-25. District staff also recognize that these ratios don’t always account for the unique needs of the children we serve. This means that like in past years, and in response to school leader feedback, we are continuing to adjust staffing to fill gaps and address students’ learning needs. 

This year we are using a phased process to allocate special education staffing: 

  • Providing schools with an initial staffing baseline. This is determined by the NSEA contract language. 
  • Analyzing each school and associated program to determine if student learning needs can be supported with the baseline staffing provided.
  • Over the next two weeks, staffing is continuing to be reviewed and adjusted with school leaders. If it is determined there will be a service gap, we will continue to increase staffing in targeted areas. 
  • Continuing to monitor student enrollment this spring. 

I understand there is a misperception that there will be a significant reduction of special education positions next year. This is not true. At this time we anticipate a limited reduction of special education jobs, if any. 

Education staffing is a process. This has always been the case as we work to ensure strong and supportive classrooms and resources for all of our students. Thank you for your patience and support as we allocate staffing in support of students with IEPs for next school year.  

Michael Tolley



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