Wichita Public Schools working to fix special education teacher shortages

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita Board of Education is passed $340,000 for up to 70 teachers and staff to get their special education certification Monday evening.

Justin Hawpe is one of the special education directors for USD 259 and said they currently have 30 special education teacher positions. The extra funds are needed to get more staff certified.

“It’s an investment in our staff, it’s an investment in our students and trying to attract and retain, and we really feel that has helped keep those teachers in those positions,” said Hawpe.

Hawpe said the extra money would help get staff into these openings. However, less staff means larger class sizes, and special education teacher Header Brown said she expects some of her classes to be approaching 20 students.

“When you put more students in a SPED classroom, that’s less than our students are getting, and it ends up being more work for the teacher. It’s pretty stressful, but ultimately, the students are the ones who are going to lose,” said Brown.

If the funding is approved, up to 70 teachers or staff will have tuition and books funds to become certified to teach special education. The payback program also guarantees teachers will teach special education classes in the district for the next three years.

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