School board members express concern about unfunded mandates

By: Erica Rakow Email
By: Erica Rakow Email

Panama City-- Pending budget cuts continue to weigh on the minds of Bay District School Board members.

At Tuesday's meeting, they expressed concern about the loss of federal stimulus money which helps fund the "Response to Intervention program," or RTI.

RTI, an unfunded mandated program, provides help to students who have behavior problems or are having trouble academically.

The intervention program gets these students help before they fail and are placed into Exceptional Student Education or ESE.

Some board members are worried once the stimulus dollars are cut off, the time-consuming tasks associated with the program will be placed on classroom teachers.

"The one thing they're (teachers) responsible for is making sure every student in their classroom is a successful learner. That's a huge challenge. And so to throw down paperwork and reporting and all those other kind of things that come with a program like this, without any particular person that could do that for them, means they're really overburdened," said Board Member, Ginger Littlelton.

Bay High School has had an RTI specialist for the past year. Principal Billy May pleaded with the board Tuesday to renew the position for another year at a cost of $50,000 dollars. May says data proves the program has helped students succeed with a reduction of student referrals and suspensions. The board decided to fund the specialist for another year.


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