The Economy and SLPs in Schools The economy is on everyone’s mind, ASHA members included. “Talking About the Economy,” an article in the June 16, 2009, issue of The ASHA Leader, featured results of a member survey on personal and professional effects of the recession. As professions, speech-language pathology and audiology appear to be holding steady ... Features
Free
Features  |   September 01, 2009
The Economy and SLPs in Schools
Author Notes
  • Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.
    Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Features
Features   |   September 01, 2009
The Economy and SLPs in Schools
The ASHA Leader, September 2009, Vol. 14, 7-19. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.14122009.7
The ASHA Leader, September 2009, Vol. 14, 7-19. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.14122009.7
The economy is on everyone’s mind, ASHA members included. “Talking About the Economy,” an article in the June 16, 2009, issue of The ASHA Leader, featured results of a member survey on personal and professional effects of the recession. As professions, speech-language pathology and audiology appear to be holding steady overall, but many clinicians report increased caseloads, stagnant or decreased compensation, and other cost-saving measure that affect service delivery.
ASHA members also worry about other family members. “One of the things we’re hearing is that our jobs are secure, but others in our household may not be secure,” said ASHA President Sue Hale during an economy session at the ASHA 2009 Schools conference.
The initial survey drew responses from speech-language pathologists and audiologists on ASHA’s two advisory councils. A second survey of 697 clinicians who pre-registered for the schools conference found similar results.
Spending Cuts
The majority of respondents to the second survey are school-based (86%) and service providers (77%). Most respondents said they were cutting or planning to cut personal and professional spending, with 59% cutting personal expenses “by a little” and 25% cutting “by a lot.” Individual professional spending cuts were similar (44% cutting “a little,” 23% cutting “a lot”); respondents’ employers and school districts, however, were experiencing greater cuts (21% cutting “a little” and 56% cutting “by a lot”).
In the conference discussion, one member pointed out that school-based members may not feel immediate economic effects, but that the drop in housing values would reduce property taxes, which support schools. “Even though you don’t feel the economic downturn now, it doesn’t mean that you won’t feel it in the future,” the participant said.
Increased Workload
Spending cuts often mean service cuts, but they also can mean the same (or more) work by fewer staff members. In the 2008 survey, 9% reported fewer positions in their districts; in 2009, that response rose to 21%. To maintain services, 11% said their districts were giving some or all speech-language pathology responsibilities to other professionals (such as educational therapists). In 2009, 17% reported that their districts left positions unfilled, compared to 14% in 2008.
Almost a fifth of respondents reported an involuntary increase in work hours to cover the workload. “As workload and number of sites increase, there is no increase in personnel,” one respondent commented. “One person does it all—me.”
Other Fallout
Respondents reported other undesired professional changes, including reduced salary or benefits without change in hours (21%); increase in the number of sites served (13%); and higher caseload and productivity expectations (35%). For others, changes to health insurance coverage equate to decreased net pay.
Districts and employers are implementing other changes—freezing professional development funds, instituting mandatory one-day furloughs, and not updating materials, among others. ASHA asked how it could help members tackle these obstacles; the majority (60%) said that resources to help with day-to-day professional activities would be the most helpful, followed by products to facilitate professional responsibilities (45%), and materials to educate professional colleagues, administrators, or parents (40%).
Going Forward
Fortunately for many school-based audiologists and SLPs, jobs seem secure and most (87%) say they aren’t worried about their jobs. Although 43% believe the economy will start to improve by the end of the year, 56% believe the economy will get worse before it gets better. Still, they contend with serious ripple effects and note that no one can say when the downturn will end, as expressed by one survey respondent: “Husband laid off, thus my part-time income is the only income until he finds work.”
How to Access Stimulus Funds

by Neil Snyder and Catherine Clarke

With the early release of stimulus funds (The ASHA Leader, Sept. 1), many ASHA members are asking about how to access the $11.37 billion available through No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Title I, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) funding.

The funds, released Sept. 1 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), include $5 billion for Title 1, $6.1 billion for IDEA, and $270 million for VR.

ASHA’s ARRA resource page should answer most questions about accessing these funds. School-based clinicians should understand, however, that most ARRA education funds go directly to the states and/or local education agencies (LEA) and not directly to individuals. Members should contact their state’s department of education and LEA to determine how the funds will be distributed locally. Most states have Web links to ARRA information on their education department Web sites. Web addresses for state education departments are available on the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Web site.

ASHA has received anecdotal information about state and LEA use of funds: one LEA is offering early retirement incentives to senior educators, and another is giving $1,700 for professional development to each of its staff speech-language pathologists. Others report that LEAs are receiving contradictory guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on how to spend ARRA funds or that schools are receiving no information from the state or local LEA about accessing ARRA funds.

Your ARRA Story

ASHA would like to hear your ARRA story. What have you heard in your school district or state? How are ARRA funds being spent? Have you witnessed ARRA funds being spent at all? Send your stories to ARRAinfo@asha.org.

Neil Snyder, director of federal advocacy, can be reached at nsnyder@asha.org. Catherine Clarke, director of education and regulatory advocacy, can be reached at cclarke@asha.org.

0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
September 2009
Volume 14, Issue 12