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  • Writer's pictureJohn Hinds

Maximizing Staff Efficiency in Special Education: My Experience with Stetson

Education staff using post-its on glass for planning

As a former principal and now a leadership consultant, I've always valued effective processes for managing school resources, especially when it comes to providing for our special education students. Stetson and Associates has developed an invaluable process for maximizing staff allocations to meet the required service minutes for students with special education needs. This process, which I heavily relied on as a principal, ensures a robust program for these students.

Recently, as a consultant, I revisited this process with a school that had not used it lately. The staff, unfamiliar with the procedure, had been improvising their schedules. While this approach might suffice in some scenarios, it was inadequate for a school with 9 special education teachers and 25 paraprofessionals servicing 170 special education students, with 28 more awaiting evaluation.

Implementing the Stetson process was enlightening. It involved a day of intensive work, focusing on the initial steps and sparking insightful discussions. This process not only helps in utilizing current staff effectively but also uncovers underlying systemic issues that require attention.

For instance, we identified several key issues at the school:

- Lack of a master list detailing teaching minutes for each subject per grade level, leading to inconsistencies in student support.

- Absence of updated rosters by case manager, grade level, or students with behavior plans, causing communication and logistical challenges.

- No clear exit criteria in the district, creating a perpetual cycle of service provision for students.

- Random placement of special education students in classrooms without a current master schedule, leading to inefficient staff allocation.

These issues, while numerous, are solvable. Some require immediate attention, while others need professional development, an area where Stetson excels.

Completing the Stetson model will significantly improve the school's staffing situation and enhance service provision. This comprehensive process is not quick, but it's thorough and ensures compliance. I encourage fellow principals to explore the resources on the Stetson website and consider whether this process could benefit your school as you plan for the next academic year.

Beyond staffing efficiency, this process fosters invaluable discussions with staff, providing deeper insights into students' learning challenges. It transforms you into a more effective instructional leader and resource manager, enriching your capabilities in school administration.

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