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Board cuts special ed director position

by Canda Harbaugh & Western News
| February 25, 2011 9:37 AM

When the Libby School Board approved

annual contracts for the district’s administrators on Monday,

Special Services Supervisor Kari Lewinsohn was not on the list.

Next school year’s projected shortfall

is in the hundreds of thousands, and slashing Lewinsohn’s wage and

benefits will reduce the deficit by $102,000.

Libby Schools Superintendant Kirby Maki

and Curriculum Director Jael Prezeau plan to divvy up Lewinsohn’s

responsibilities, which includes collaborating with families,

teachers and principals to build programs that best meet the needs

of the more than 100 children with disabilities in the


Some parents have raised concern about

how their children’s education will be affected.

“I’ve tried to assure parents my

background coming from my previous school where I was special

education director, as well as curriculum director, as well as

superintendent ...,”Maki said at Monday’s board meeting. “I have a

real strong feeling about all kids having an opportunity within

their particular program to succeed.”

Strict federal guidelines lay out

methods and requirements of individualized education for special

needs kids. The process also involves cumbersome reporting, work

that will fall on Prezeau, district secretaries and himself, Maki


“Anytime you eliminate (a position),

other people pick up the work,” he said. “In this case we need to

save money. It’s unfortunate but we’re not going to let special

needs kids suffer. We’re going to look out for all kids.”

Lewinsohn was hired in 2007. She also

serves as coordinator for the district’s limited gifted and

talented program.