Lynne Hermansen
Three SPED teachers addressed the Gardner-Edgerton School Board with their concerns about recent funding cuts at the May 2 Board of Education meeting.
During public comments, Michelle Wyrick, said she had emailed board members a letter with signatures.
Wyrick said she was dedicated to the district but had major concerns about the amount of resignations that were going to happen.
“It is not a secret that we have had tremendous turnover,” she said.
Wyrick said constantly training new staff was time consuming and it was hurting families.
“Three occupational therapists and a psychologist have resigned,” she said. “We have increased case loads with not enough staffing.”
Wyrick said in the past month positions had not been filled.
“I can not commit not knowing next year,” she said.
Lisa Thursby, physical therapist, said she had been with the district for five years.
“The growth has been exciting but it feels like we aren’t keeping up,” she said. “I’ve seen the exodus of staff.”
Thursby said she hadn’t been able to meet the IEP requirements of the students she sees.
“It is more than working with students,” she said. “It is safe and accessible classrooms. It is educating staff. It is community programs and life transitions.”
Thursby said she didn’t have time to plan and collaborate.
“I struggle to make up sessions, travel decreases time during the day and there is no dedicated office space,” she said. “I am asking you to recognize our concerns and advocate for us. Set us as a priority.”
Lorissa  McGuire, music therapist, said she had been with the district for 13 years and came to the board meeting to support Wyrick and Thursby.
“They mean the world to me,” she said. “I want them to come back, and I really love my job.”
McGuire said they just want to be heard and recognizes times are hard.
“You have a hard job,” she said. “These guys have a hard job.”
McGuire said they didn’t have any representation and were easily overlooked and dropped out.
“I hate losing our colleagues,” she said. “Please consider how to keep great employees in the district.”
Greg Chapman, board member, said they had spent many hours listening to parents crying.
SPED was heard, he said, and they wanted to make it the focus.
“It is not just lip service,” he said. “We are very dedicated. It has been lacking and gets left out.”