Workers, Parents, Students and Community Vow to Fight to Stop Move
Cambridge, Minn — Last night the School Board of the Cambridge-Isanti Independent School District (ISD) 911 voted to eliminate over 230 staff hours, per day, for special education paraprofessionals at seven schools. This would result in the loss of 50-60 special education paraprofessionals–over 25% of the workforce.
The board meeting saw an overflow, standing-room-only crowd of supporters demanding the Board not vote to make cuts that could hurt students. The cuts were announced less than a week ago in a surprise move, and the public was only given five minutes to testify about the damage that would be done by these cuts.
Testifying before the vote, paraprofessionals and parents shared the harmful effects that special education cuts would have on students and the community. Nic Johnson, who is a para at the High School and utilized special ed support when he went to school in C-I, shared why paras are so important to so many people in the community.
“I see kids just like me, and I know what they are going through,” said Valland. “I just don’t know what is going on and what will happen if you make these cuts.”
Talia Fluth, an Instructional Assistant in the schools and a parent of children who receive special education support service, spoke before the board voted to cut services to special needs services in the district.
“Ultimately, the needs of our students, my children, your children, is what is at stake when this decision is made. For the sake of our children’s future, my instructional Assistant peers, and our community as a whole, I urge you to reconsider this layoff proposal,” said Fluth. “At the very minimum we demand that this decision is postponed until members of the public and our education community can have more than six days to weigh in and share ideas on how this decision will impact the day-to-day education of our special needs students.”
Tara Valland, a para in the schools and parent of a child with dyslexia, shared how important SpEd Paras are for families the community.
“I am afraid for our community and what might happen to all of our kids. My son has dyslexia and it has been a struggle. After years of trying, we finally got a para for him and he has gone from failing to A’s. He has gone from thinking college was out of reach to wanting to go to college!,” said Valland. “Board members need to make sure every student is taken care of from Kindergarten to graduation. We want you to curb this decision until more information can be gathered by the community, teachers and most important parents in our district.”
After the decision, the overflow crowd committed to continuing to fight against the cuts that would do so much harm to students, paras, families and community members in the Cambridge-Isanti ISD 911 district.