Special-Ed Aides Could Cost $5 Million - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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Special-Ed Aides Could Cost $5 Million

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Mayor Karl Dean (in the foreground) Mayor Karl Dean (in the foreground)
Budget hearing for Metro Schools Budget hearing for Metro Schools
Chris Henson, acting director of Metro Schools Chris Henson, acting director of Metro Schools

Metro school offiicials assured Mayor Karl Dean Tuesday that they are working on a plan to end the sexual assaults on the city's special-education buses.

But, they cautioned, putting aides on every bus could be expensive.

It follows questions raised by NewsChannel 5 Investigates and our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams.

The mayor had asked for a plan by the end of next week, but he's not waiting until then to start asking questions.

In fact, during budget hearings for Metro schools, Dean and his staff had some pointed questions -- questions that focused on whether aides are needed to keep the children safe.

"That's got to be -- we would agree -- our top priority, and we've got to do better," Dean said.

While the mayor hadn't expected school officials to have a plan for this hearing, his questions highlighted one potential problem: the lack of an adult on those special-ed buses to help the drivers deal with kids who have many difficult issues.

Right now, officials told him, Metro has 217 special education buses.

But there are only 10 aides for those 217 buses.

Adding aides could cost $24,000 each -- including salary and benefits.

So putting aides on every bus would cost right under $5 million.

"We are going to look at all of our policies and procedures that we have in place," acting schools director Chris Henson said after the budget hearing.

"That could go to how students are assigned, specific seats on the bus, which students are assigned to which bus. So we are going to look at all aspects and hopefully come up with a plan that will improve that situation."

Whatever they decide, school officials say they will indeed have a plan to the mayor by the end of next week.

Watch more videos and follow the stories at NC5 Investigates: Stories of Abuse

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