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18 Hall parapros will lose their jobs
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Approximately 18 paraprofessionals in Hall County schools are being informed this week they will not have a job in the classroom after May 27.

Richard Hill, assistant superintendent for Hall County schools, said about six K-12 special education paraprofessionals and about 12 kindergarten paraprofessionals will be terminated on the last teacher planning day of this school year. Paraprofessionals often assist certified teachers in kindergarten, special education or English language learner classrooms.

"There are some people this year who are going to be let go but not because of poor job performance, but because their job is no longer needed," he said. "... They are being told now by their principals. I imagine the majority of them have already been informed there will not be a position for them next year."

Paraprofessionals, unlike teachers, are not certified personnel and do not have contracts with the school system, Hill said. He said the school board hires them and they work for the system until they resign, retire or are terminated.

Even after the Hall County school system cut 100 teaching positions and nearly $6.5 million from the upcoming fiscal year budget, Superintendent Will Schofield said Monday the board still is searching for an additional $3 million to $5 million in cuts before finalizing the budget before the next fiscal year begins on July 1.

Hill estimates the parapro terminations will save the system about $380,000.

He said the staff reductions became necessary as kindergarten classrooms were consolidated to reduce teaching positions. He said the Hall County school system experienced less enrollment growth for the 2008-09 school year than expected and kindergarten teacher cuts, and consequently paraprofessional cuts, had to be made to meet budget constraints.

"It won’t affect kindergarten students at all because every kindergarten class will still have a paraprofessional in it," he said.

Hill said kindergarten class sizes will remain "well under" the state maximum allowed.

He said the six special education paraprofessional positions were cut because the individual students to which those parapros were assigned have met some of the goals outlined on students’ individual education plans.

"Some of those (special education) students were making the progress we hoped they would make, so they will no longer need a parapro next year," he said.

Hill said special education students’ needs still will be met as teachers are implemented more efficiently in the 2009-10 school year.

He said the system is keeping a close eye on enrollment numbers for the upcoming school year to determine if any more layoffs are necessary. So far, enrollment for next year looks as if it’s holding steady at nearly 26,000 students, Hill said.

"We’ll continue to look at enrollment and the number of parapros without jobs may go up through the summer," he said. "But we’ll let our folks know as soon as possible."

Hill said if more paraprofessionals are needed next school year, members of this 18-person pool will be among the first to be rehired.