Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More fun about my job

As pretty much anyone who reads my blog knows, I work in a classroon with severly disabled students (Complex Needs Classroom). My job includes specialized feeding protocols, nursing skills, bathrooming and physical therapy activities as well as assisting in the educational components of kids in a school.

Since so much specialized care & education is involved, our classroom is kind of a center for our county. We serve multiple school districts, although most of our students are in town. So we're not a school district room, we're a classroom run by the Education Service District for Douglas County. The ESD also provides the Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, nurse, vision specialist & Physical Therapist that work with our kids.

Today I'm listening to talk radio, and I hear that Oregon wants to reduce the number of ESDs we have in our state. Currently, there are 21 ESDs. They want to drop that to 11. (This was proposed by a Democrat, btw).

The reason is the bureaucracy, of course. Each ESD has a superintendent earning at least $100K. On the radio, they were questioning whether an ESD even needs a superintendent at all. There's already the superintendents for the school districts. If ESDs are combined, the administrative staffing would be halved, at least. Those salaries would feed back into the school fund (which is so low now, they can't even estimate how many days we'll lose for next year).

The thing is, each child served by the current ESD employees have a legal document, the Individualized Education Plan. Trevor had one, and Connor has one. These IEPs make sure the student gets the services they need to be successful. Connor's lays out that he takes the Special Education bus, that he works with a modified curriculum, and that he gets an aide, for instance. Connor works with a Speech Teacher to help him figure out better how to speak (which is working wonderfully, btw), and he also has a Consulting Teacher available to help with his educational goals & how to reach them. Both these ladies are ESD staff.

I don't think you could eliminate the services provided by the ESDs at this point. There still needs to be some kind of central service place to get those specialized folks that a regular school can't support. Just like there are no school nurses on site any more. You get the one from the ESD to spend X amount of time with your student. As it is, the current ESD therapists have huge caseloads and are totally overworked.

It's all going to be very interesting to see how this plays out now. We're a pretty big ESD, so maybe we'll just absorb a few smaller ones? Our county is the biggest in the state already, but it sounds like they want to ignore the county aspect and just go by "northern coast, eastern, central, southern coast," etc.

If they close my classroom, would I wind up working with a student, one-on-one, for the school district? All our kids are 2-person lifts for equipment & bathrooming. Where will the mats be to have them be able to stretch out? Where would we feed them so kids aren't staring at us putting in feeding tubes or sitting for 1.5 hours to feed them their specific diet of pureed food? Would they get to do their goals of learning to become more independent? Would it be up to the aides to determine the educational plan if we don't have a certified teacher (there's no way each kid gets their own teacher)? Who would supervise us if the regular ed teachers don't even know these kids?

Oh - and just as an aside, we are being asked to take 4 furlough (unpaid) days next month. They're just going to shut down our room on 4 Fridays next month to be able to cover payroll. The rest of the school will be open...

I went home after being at work an hour today because I've already built up 9 hours that they can't afford to pay me for days I had to work that were not in my contract. (The school district had added conference days back in as regular school days, and we don't work when we don't have students). We had a kid out sick, so I could leave without asking for a sub to cover me (no money for that).

Anyway - I got the taxes done ;)

Yes indeed. Interesting times.

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