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Respond to the Walt Whitman Cluster testimony that states that special education case loads are very high in both resource and primary learning center classes at Burning Tree Elementary School, and that the school has had to reorganize its Learning Center teaching units to create combination classes in all grades. Are there staffing issues at other Elementary Learning Center programs?

Question#: 52

ANSWER:

Elementary Learning Centers (ELC) receive staffing at a ratio of 1 teacher to 9 students and a .875 full time equivalent (FTE) paraeducator for a 1.0 teacher position to serve Kindergarten–Grade 5 students.  Elementary Learning Centers traditionally serve combination grade classes.  For example, an Elementary Learning Center may have a Kindergarten/Grade 1 class, a Grade 2/Grade 3 class, and a Grade 4/Grade 5 class.  Due to the growth in the Elementary Learning Center schools, the schools are staffed, on average, with four to five teachers with a 0.875 FTE paraeducator per class.  In FY 2012, MCPS began to provide each Elementary Learning Center with an additional .5 FTE teacher position to provide support for instruction in reading and/or mathematics.  Also, in FY 2013, MCPS allocated a .875 paraeducator positon to each Elementary Learning Center above the normal ratio to provide support as needed across classes.  

Currently, the Burning Tree Elementary Learning Center has a total enrollment of 39 students, served by five teachers and four paraeducators, and a 0.5 FTE Elementary Learning Center coordinator.  Classes are organized as follows:  Kindergarten/Grade 1, Grade 2/Grade 3, and Grade 4/Grade 5.  Both teachers and paraeducators support these classes.  The school has a more favorable ratio than the staffing guideline.

Regarding the resource teacher allocation for Burning Tree Elementary School, the school is staffed based on the total number of resource service hours for all students with disabilities identified to receive resource teacher support.  Currently, the school is staffed with 1.0 FTE resource teacher and 0.5 FTE paraeducator.

The Office of Special Education and Student Services monitors the enrollment of each Elementary Learning Center and responds to individual principal requests for additional staffing by first analyzing enrollment and the use of allocated resources.

The Department of Special Education Services meets four times per year with all principals and coordinators of Elementary Learning Centers to discuss effective instructional practices and staffing and instructional models. 

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