Special education funds in jeopardy

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Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - David Dycus

PADUCAH, Ky. - McNabb Elementary is home to nearly 500 kids under the age of ten.  Things tend to get hectic, especially in Kim Henley's classroom.

"I sit in the middle and spin this way and that way," she said of the difficulty of trying to work one on one with four special needs students simultaneously.

But, things could get tougher.  Special education teachers like her could soon have to swallow some $7.7 million in federal cuts beginning March 1st.  The cuts, according to the White House, could mean fewer teachers and more students in each classroom.

"It's upsetting. You think how much lower can we go? How much more can they cut from us?" Henley said.

Amie Tooley is the District's Special Programs Director. She worries about teachers like Henley getting burned out and others getting pink slips.

"If they choose a different career path that will really limit the pot of teachers we have to choose from, which again will further reduce the quality and types of services we can provide our students."

But Henley, a 24 year veteran of the classroom, says if and when the cuts do happen, she will make it work, "We'll just continue to try our best with what we've got."

Cuts to education mean Kentucky could also lose $11.8 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting 160 teacher and aide jobs at risk.

Also cuts to college financial aid and work study jobs that help students pay for college are on the chopping block. Head start services would be eliminated for about 1,100 preschool aged students.

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