Reading program cut in Dubuque Schools - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Reading program cut in Dubuque Schools

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Research shows that children who read well in early grades are far more successful in later years. The department of education finds that reading opens doors to learning about math, history, science, and more. On the other hand, students who cannot read well are more likely to drop out of school and be limited to low-paying jobs.

Because of budget shortfalls, the Dubuque School District is cutting a reading program unique to the area. But the program will remain in several schools and the teachers are not being left jobless.

The scene at Lincoln Elementary in Dubuque shows reading and writing teacher Staci Walsh works one on one with a first grader.

"It's a program that's beside the classroom. It's in conjunction with that. You have reading in the classroom and then come to us for a half an hour," said Title I teacher Mary Willenbring.

The special reading program is federally funded by Title 1 -- there are currently five schools in Dubuque with Title 1 status. But up until now, the district offered similar reading programs in all elementary schools.

"For schools that didn't qualify for title 1, we stepped up with general education dollars to pay for teachers, who look like and act like title 1 teachers," said John Burgart, Superintendent.

Burgart says those programs will no longer exist in non Title 1 schools.

"This is not meant to be a reflection on their value to the district on the importance of kids, importance to school programs," said Burgart.

He also says it has everything to do with funding. With 11 vacant elementary teacher positions he's giving all reading teachers the opportunity to move into the classroom. But many teachers say it's one on one attention in classrooms like help students gain confidence in their reading.

"This really helps the classroom teachers too for kids who are struggling very low coming in at the beginning of the year, they have someone else that can help them out," said Walsh.

Burgart hopes Govenor Culver releases incentive funds to help retain these positions. Starting next fall, programs in Title 1 school like Lincoln, will be the only schools offering a reading program.

"You have to learn to read . It's the most important thing, i would hope that funds would continue somewhere to fund all the schools," said Willenbring.

Last spring the dubuque community school district cut 44 jobs - all in an effort to meet budget concerns.

Online reporter: Lauren Squires

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