Walker, Catoosa students head back to school amidst budget cuts
FLINTSTONE, Ga. -- In a back office at Chattanooga Valley Elementary School, Sandra Jenkins, two other teachers and Assistant Principal Tracy Llewellyn peer over a giant calendar and brightly colored tabs while planning for today -- the first day of classes for some North Georgia schools.
The tabs represent each student at the Flintstone school with a disability, ranging from autism to hearing impairments, and how their needs will be met each day in the classroom. But the challenge this year is how to plan with half the number of special education teachers -- going from four full-time and two part-time teachers to three full-time teachers.
Walker County Schools cut 21 special education teachers across the district, and officials are scrambling to figure out how to serve nearly the same amount of students -- 1,250 districtwide -- with fewer teachers. The county now employs about 134 special education teachers.
"No matter how good you are, you can only be in one place," said Jenkins, who has worked at Chattanooga Valley for 32 years.
As students in Walker and Catoosa counties head back to classes today, another challenge the systems may face is larger class sizes.
Read More. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)