Plattsburgh Officials at Champlain Valley Educational Services knew some time ago they would once again be forced to cut positions as local school officials pulled back special education students to save money.
Still, the numbers are jolting, a total of 84 layoffs approved from February 2012 until June 2012.
“Those are all employees who will not be returning as of Sept. 1,” said Rachel Rissetto, CVES director of human services.
Roughly a year ago, CVES was forced to eliminate 93.5 positions, again, largely due to districts pulling special education students back. A few of those positions were reinstated, but the majority remained vacant.
CVES officials stressed that they will continue to offer the same programs, just fewer sections of them. At the same time, CVES, which offers technical training and special-education services to 17 school districts in Clinton, Essex, Warren and Washington counties, plans to provide at least two new programs under its special education wing.
“I certainly think our special education division is evolving based on our districts’ future needs,” Rissetto said. “That is absolutely not a bad thing. I think we will continue to respond to the needs of our districts, and as their needs change, the services we provide will change.”
Rising special education costs have long been a burden for area school districts. When the federal government passed legislation in 1975 ensuring all disabled students received a public education, it had indicated it would reimburse 40 percent of the costs, but to this day that figure has hardly reached 14 percent.
The majority of school officials and the public agree such students should be educated and provided the resources required to participate in and benefit from that education, but the cost burden largely falls on schools and local taxpayer’s shoulders.
CVES, in some instances, has been better equipped to provide special education services to area children.