Children with special needs may be the biggest winners in the contract talks tentatively concluded Friday between the and the .
Both and were in agreement after Monday’s School Board meeting at Shepard Middle School the eight months of talks helped accelerate special education changes already in the offing.
and involvement in School Board meetings, scores of parents spoke publically about their concerns over many of the issues separating the union and the District but particularly special education.
While the crowd was much smaller Monday—less than 50 people were there as opposed to gatherings of more than 500 in months past—a number of parents let the Board know the special education was on their minds.
“My concerns about special education are still here,” parent Sheryl Green said. “Do not turn away from the serious issues that are still here.”
Early in the negotiations between the union and the District, Jensen made it clear special education was an issue to be included in the contract. He believes the teachers’ stand helped spur action the Board has already taken.
“There is no question when the parents took up the issue and we made it part of the negotiations it got action,” Jensen said. “Some of the changes (we wanted) are already happening in the middle schools.”
Goier did not disagree with Jensen’s position. She still made it clear plans to make changes which were discussed by scores of parents at every Board meeting since November were put in place last summer.
Changes in special education started over the summer, Goier said. “The negotiations escalated the speed with which it moved along.”
Another parent, Katie Bittner, felt the parent involvement over the last eight months was a contributing factor to motivating action on special education. “Yes, definitely, because the parents stepped up and showed this was not going away,” she said.
Though parents, Goier and Jensen all agreed the negotiations sped changes in special education programs, Board President Ellen London made it clear issues contained in the tentative agreement reached Friday would not be publically discussed at Monday’s meeting.
“We reached a tentative agreement, it’s going through legal review, then it goes to the DEA and then it comes to us,” London said of the process.