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MN story highlights SPED classroom for autistic students; one to 3 staff to student ratio

Mar 16, 2019, Minnesota Post Bulletin: Special ed teachers customize coursework Tammy French, an autism special education teacher at Bishop Elementary School, put blue filters on the overhead florescent lights in her classroom. Her students are sensitive to light, she said. A small table is placed to discourage running in the space. Everything in the classroom is curated to help her teach her class of six kindergarten through second-grade students with severe autism. … Half of French’s students are nonverbal. … On Thursday, French checked with paraprofessional Marion Fosdick on how a particular student responded during the day and planned for Friday. … Each intensive special education classroom has at least one paraprofessional assisting the teachers and working directly with students. … Students with such intensive needs spend 60 percent or more of their school day in a special education setting. Minnesota guidelines mandate a maximum class size of six students, which means a higher cost per pupil for such special education classes. “Any time you drop capacity, it increases cost,” said John Carlson, Rochester Public Schools executive director of finance. Special education services are mandated and school districts receive funding specifically for special education programs. However, that funding has fallen short of actual district costs. As special education services grow, the gap has widened.


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