To The Daily Sun,
In addressing Mr. Leandro's letter of Feb. 20, I would first like to say that no one in administration requested that I speak at the Gilford school deliberative session. I wrote the letter on my own, and read my letter to be sure that I covered all the key points that I wanted to address regarding the cuts to the School Board's recommended budget. Those cuts directly affected the paraprofessionals and assistant teachers in the School District. While many know who we are, many people do not know what the we do within the schools.
Gilford paraprofessionals are Para II certified with the state licensing board, and like the teachers, participate in professional development to maintain our certification, which is renewed every three years.
We supplement the regular education teachers in educating those children who have a legal document, called an IEP, that requires the school to provide assistance to identified students. Our goal is to help them to be successful in their education. Paraprofessionals also help them feel safe via social and emotional support, as well as being advocates for their education.
The students know us and we know them, as we are a constant during their time in school. This means we are often the ones who see the changes that are indicative of issues that need to be addressed, not just educationally, but socially and emotionally.
Family dynamics have changed, requirements for education have changed. We provide a vital service to those students who need it the most. It has been proven that children with disabilities are more successful when they know the people who work with them. We take great pride in our work and the work of our students.
Financially, we are saving the taxpayers the difference between our salary and the $100,000 per child it would cost taxpayers if the students were put in out-of-district placement. Other important facts that people might not know about the paraprofessionals are how we assist with after-school activities, such as the Unified Team.
Our assistant teachers work with those students who are not covered by IEPs, keeping them from falling through the cracks. Test scores would plummet without the added teaching skills they offer. They reteach classroom topics, reinforcing the learning material. Without the assistant teachers, this would not be possible.
Knowing this information, I am asking taxpayers to please support the amended school district's budget. Thank you.
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