MERCER COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) — Thirty-one special education teachers and aides with the Mercer County Special Services School District are being let go, leaving parents worried for their children’s education. But teachers are still hoping for the best.
“They don’t always voice how they’re feeling but they are feeling this,” Behavioral disability teacher Gabrielle Raccosta said.READ MORE: 'A Game Changer': CDC Recommends Johnson & Johnson's 1-Dose COVID Vaccine, Paving Way For Distribution To Begin
They don’t deserve this. That’s what a behavioral disability teacher in Mercer County Special Services School District says about her students after she was abruptly given a pink slip.
“The worst part of it is leaving these kids, who are already fragile, who are already vulnerable,” Raccosta said.
Raccosta is just one of 31 special needs services staff whose jobs have been slashed. She’s devastated for her students.
“It just breaks my heart. It really does,” Raccosta said.READ MORE: Irv Cross, Former Eagles Star DB And Pioneer Black Analyst, Dies At 81
The school district superintendent said the cuts are due to declining enrollment and a $2.6 million deficit. The teachers’ union says the job cuts will only save the district about $600,000.
“We continue to fight and will continue to fight. We are asking for help from a lot of different resources,” said Leah Pray, president of the Mercer County Special Services Therapeutic and Educational Association.
Teachers say finding a new job now will be challenging but it’s not their jobs they’re fighting for, it’s their students’ futures.
“The kids should be the focus of these conversations and I don’t think that’s always the case,” Raccosta said.MORE NEWS: COVID In Philadelphia: City Easing More Restrictions Monday On Road To Recovery
Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Schneider released a lengthy statement on the district’s website. In it, she addressed the decline in enrollment stating: “The principal cause of reduced enrollments in MCSSSD is not students dropping out mid-year and returning to their districts but, rather, fewer students signing up.”