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Area school district proposes $500,000 in special education cuts

CREATED Mar 3, 2014 - UPDATED: Mar 3, 2014

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MEQUON - Students in special education require a lot of one-on-one attention. That’s why parents were shocked to learn the Mequon-Thiensville School District wants to slash special education staff.

Aaron Hurvitz is a father of two. One child has special needs. He was among a group of parents who listened to school leaders as they explained why cuts to special education are necessary.

The district needs to cut $1.7 million dollars for the 2014-2015 school year.  Right now the superintendent wants a half million dollars to come directly from special education.

“When did the $500,000 cuts come up as an idea,” asked Hurvitz.

Hurvitz said he understands cuts must be made but he believes the district is unfairly targeting special needs students.

“That’s where I take issue. The cut is affecting students with disabilities disproportionate to all students,” said Hurvitz.

Special education makes up nearly 30 percent of the proposed cuts. Those same special education students make up less than 13 percent of the population.

“It would be a different discussion if the cuts were 12 percent total,” said Hurvitz.

But Superintendent Demond Means believes the cuts are reasonable.

“We’ve shielded the classroom as much as we can in regards to our reductions,” said Means.

Means said the district is expecting a decline in special education enrollment and the elimination of five teachers is a key component.

“In all of our reductions the student-teacher ratio stays the same. The only place we see an increase is in the student-teacher ratio is at the high school level,” said Means.

Means added the quality of its program will remain the same. But parents like Hurvitz believe more time is needed before finalizing a decision.

“I think it’s too fast, the 3-4 weeks that we’ve had to discuss this issue,” said Hurvitz.

The school board is expected to vote on this in two weeks.  There will be another meeting to discuss the special education cuts on Wednesday March 12th at the district. That meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30pm.