No Budget, No Equipment

By Sara Starlin, Speech Language Pathologist from Springfield, OR

I am a speech-language pathologist in a Title 1 school. I serve 50 students with a wide range of needs. Because of the high mobility of our population, I conduct approximately 120 Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings per year. While this is a lot, the scary thing is that my job is manageable compared to other caseloads in the state.

The students on my caseload represent the spectrum of services that I am trained to provide. I serve students with articulation disorders, language delay, and autism. I program communication devices. I train educational assistants, teachers and parents to use those devices. I create programs to teach the students to use those devices. I create materials to help students successfully move through their day. I train educational assistants on strategies to increase language when working with our students with limited verbal skills. I collaborate with teachers to problem solve challenging situations. I ensure that our students with hearing loss have appropriate amplification systems and teachers are trained to use them. I go into classrooms and provide whole group social skills lessons because we no longer have counselors. I am responsible for doing hearing screenings on every kindergartner in the building as well as all students who are evaluated for a Communication Disorder eligibility.

“…the scary thing is that my job is manageable compared to other caseloads in the state.”

I do all of this with no budget, no curriculum, and out of date equipment.

Working with students is why I pursued this field. Unfortunately, a large percentage of my time is spent in meetings. During the month of May, I will conduct 15 IEP meetings, 15 preschool transition meetings for students who currently have an Individual Family Support Plan, and attend 10 other meetings required by the building or district.

There is a shortage of speech pathologists in Oregon. In order to attract and retain the highly qualified SLPs, we need to ensure an appropriate level of funding to support smaller caseloads, up-to-date materials and assessments, and professional development to stay current on evidence-based practices in our profession. Only with real support can we serve our students well.

Sara Starlin in a Speech Language Pathologist in Springfield, OR. #OREducatorVoices

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