For Val Hagglund, the promise of the American dream is slipping through her fingers.
"We had our retirement savings," she said. "With the stock market crash we don't have time to recover that money. This is not how I envisioned going into my golden years."
Hagglund has been president of the Association of Jamestown Paraprofessionals for 15 years. Her SRP unit has been stretched thin. Membership has decreased by 27 percent, to 134 members. And, Hagglund added, the Jamestown Public School District would like to reduce that number further.
The Chautauqua county district serves 5,500 students. It has a high number of special education students and students with multiple disabilities, factors Hagglund feels add to the need for additional SRP support.
Changes in some students' Individualized Education Programs (IEP) have resulted in the elimination of some aide positions. Bus monitors' hours have been decreased and SRP building staff have taken on additional duties to cover for the staff reductions.
Still, even as Hagglund contemplates her own retirement, she continues to battle for her members, winning back hours cut from service stipulated in a student's IEP, crunching the numbers on support staff requirements, and spreading the word about how staff reductions impact students