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SJSD in need of special ed., para teachers

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SJSD BOE discusses SPED teacher retention plan

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph School District is in need of special education teachers, para-professionals and speech-language pathologists.

Wednesday, the SJSD board met to discuss ways to attract and hire more teachers in the special education program.

"We looked at our special education, staffing, because that was the place that was the worst," said Superintendent Dr. Gabe Edgar.

Program leaders say the number of special education students increases each school year within SJSD, resulting in needing more teachers. 

Since the 2018-19 school year, the district has lost 13 special education teachers and 22 paras. Assistants Director of the Special Education Program Dlo DuVall said some positions have been filled for the upcoming school year but not enough to meet the requirements.

"We're getting pretty late. I don't think we've ever been at this point this late in the game and not have we're not really getting applicants," said DuVall. "We are getting some applicants for our paraprofessional, but we're not getting the numbers that we would like to see."

During Wednesday's meeting, the board of education did approve extra duty pay for case managers effecting up to 100 staff members and will provide financial support for applicants.

"That is exciting. I think that that will help them feel that they are compensated for the extra work that they are doing outside of their contract," DuVall explained. "It's more fulfilling as a teacher that if you have the support through your own professional development that you need." 

The board agrees to meet each week to fill the open positions.

A minimum of 6 special education teachers, 18 para-professionals and 4 speech-language pathologists are still needed before the 2022-23 school year begins.

SJSD contracts Supplemental Health Care and Therapy at School to assist with specialized staff. 

SJSD also began the All Students Achieve Program which is housed at Mosaic Life Care.

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