Apr 27, 2023, Syracuse (NY) News: Syracuse to hire 50 teaching assistants to help special needs students entering school after pandemic
The Syracuse School District is hiring 50 teaching assistants to help the hundreds of special needs students entering kindergarten and first grade in the aftermath of the pandemic.
About 20% of that student population have been found to have special needs. That’s up slightly from last year .
Up to four teaching assistants will be placed in classrooms to provide additional support for special education students, said Irastina Reid, the district’s special education director. The new hires will receive special education training from the district….
Children who are three or four years old would typically be evaluated for potential needs in preschool or by a pediatrician.
“But because of the pandemic, children weren’t necessarily going to the doctors unless they were sick,” Reid said. “So some of those children weren’t found until they got to kindergarten.” Some of the undetected problems include an inability to grasp utensils, crayons and pencils. Other problems include difficulty speaking or walking. …
The district conducted screenings for children in kindergarten and first grade who have shown an indication of needing intervention, such as children who did not attend preschool, learned remotely, or have been recommended for screening by a teacher.
The district expects to spend about $1.7 million to hire the new assistants. The district received $40 million in additional state aid this year.
Dracker recommends that parents who are concerned their child may need special education should contact their physician so they can advocate for the child.
“The sooner you recognize what the child’s limitations are and institute therapy, the better outcome and the sooner the outcome,” he said. “So I understand parents don’t want their child labeled, but the terms that we use for the child are only done so we can benefit the needs of the child.”