Public Comments for: HB547 - Speech-language pathologists; Department of Education to develop/maintain statewide strategic plan.
Last Name: Pulliam Organization: SHAV Locality: Victoria

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school-based speech-language pathologists. ● Speech-language pathologists provide services to students with disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries and speech-language impairments. Speech-language pathologists also provide support and services to students without disabilities, through prevention work and Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Support. ● There has long been a shortage of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia and across the nation. Based on a fall 2021 survey of all school districts, there were 93 (full time equivalent) vacancies for Speech-Language Pathologists. ● Large caseloads may negatively impact both recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists. While three of the bordering areas do not have caps, West Virginia and North Carolina have a cap of 50. In reducing the caseload cap in Virginia, we would become more competitive for prospective speech-language pathologists near the West Virginia and North Carolina borders, as their cap is currently 18 students lower than Virginia’s. ● The need for the reduction of the speech-language pathologists’ caseload has been well established per discussion and action in 1989, 1994 and 2000 in the Virginia General Assembly. When the Virginia General Assembly reduced the caseload to 70, it included the intent of the General Assembly to reduce caseloads to a level equivalent to the national average by the year 1999. The current cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. By passing HB547, the VDOE will gather the data needed to identify the needs for SLPs in schools across the Commonwealth and create specific action plans targeting the recruitment and retention of SLPs. I am available to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Wendy Pulliam, MS, CCC-SLP pulliamwj@gmail.com

Last Name: McCharen Locality: Charlottesville, VA

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school based speech-language pathologists. ● Speech-language pathologists provide services to students with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum disorders, developmental delays, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries and speech-language impairments. Speech-language pathologists also provide support and services to students without disabilities, through prevention work and Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Support. ● There has long been a shortage of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia and across the nation. Based on a fall 2021 survey of all school districts, there were 93 (full time equivalent) vacancies for Speech-Language Pathologists. ● Large caseloads may negatively impact both recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists. While three of the bordering areas do not have caps, West Virginia and North Carolina have a cap of 50. In reducing the caseload cap in Virginia, we would become more competitive for prospective speech-language pathologists near the West Virginia and North Carolina borders, as their cap is currently 18 students lower than Virginia’s. ● The need for the reduction of the speech-language pathologists’ caseload has been well established per discussion and action in 1989, 1994 and 2000 in the Virginia General Assembly. When the Virginia General Assembly reduced the caseload to 70, it included the intent of the General Assembly to reduce caseloads to a level equivalent to the national average by the year 1999. The current cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. By passing HB547, the VDOE will gather the data needed to identify the needs for SLPs in schools across the Commonwealth and create specific action plans targeting the recruitment and retention of SLPs. I am available to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Best, Maria McCharen, MA CCC-SLP Speech-language pathologist in Giles Co. Public Schools

Last Name: Payne Locality: Charlottesville Virginia

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school based speech-language pathologists. As an educator with 35 years of service I have seen the impact high caseloads have had on the delivery and effectiveness of Speech and Language therapy. Our SLP's do an amazing job juggling so many children- but what is the cost of that? The cost is loosing high quality staff as well as decreased effectiveness of the the much needed therapy. We must lower the caseloads in order for the children to receive an appropriate level of therapy delivery. We must also lower the caseloads in order for therapists to deliver that therapy with fidelity. These therapists are tasked with delivering therapy, paperwork(documentation), collaboration with general education staff and parents along with all of their other duties within a school building. We must support these dedicated professionals and allow them to effectively execute their jobs in order to recruit and retain. Kathryn Payne Preschool/Special Education Coordinator Greene County Public Schools

Last Name: Marla Bruton Locality: Greene County, VA

Comments Document

I am writing in support of HB 547.  The breadth of support services that school-based speech language pathologists can offer to students to improve their communication and swallowing skills is important. Our role and responsibilities are truly unique in the school districts as we work directly with the students on our caseload as specified in their IEPs. We are often the case managers for the majority of our students . As case managers, we are the main point of contact with families regarding their student's special education services. We write and carry out the student's IEP in collaboration with the student's IEP team . SLPs oversee the screening new students (for communication and hearing), conduct evaluations of students with suspected disabilities, write thorough reports of these evaluations, complete progress reports, bill Medicaid for the services we provide to eligible students, and collect and organize data for all the students on our caseload (for each session if the student is eligible for Medicaid). Our profession covers a broad range of skills and we are also obligated to stay abreast of current research and practices in our field (which encompasses language disorders, speech sound disorders, fluency differences, swallowing, voice disorders, social language, executive function skills, augmentative and alternative communication) and apply these to our daily interactions with our students. Applying evidence based practice to our work in the schools requires a good deal of specialized professional development which is often different from what would be helpful for a classroom teacher. SLP's are also called on frequently to support classroom teachers as they work with students who have any level of communication delay or disorder to better support these students in the classroom- even if the student does not qualify for speech-language services in school. With these unique roles and services, having such high numbers of students on our caseloads leads to more work than can be reasonably completed in a week.   I have worked in my school division, which currently employs 5 full time and 1 part time SLP, for the past 5 years. In that time, we have had a part time position that has gone unfilled for 4 of the 5 years. In that time frame, we have also had five SLPs leave our school district. Only 1 of those 5 still works as a school based SLP in a Virginia school district. My husband regularly entreats me to look into working at a private practice rather than in the schools because of the amount of time I spend at home in the evenings and on weekends completing my work responsibilities. I am in full support of lowering the caseload cap as a way to boost recruitment and retention of qualified Speech Language Pathologists in the schools. My insight as a school-based SLP is that most of us working in the schools would prioritize having a more manageable workload than a pay increase. Every professional development conference I have attended has included at least one session targeted to preventing burnout. These types of sessions would not be necessary if burnout was not a big problem in our profession.  Thank you for your support of school based SLPs and HB 547. Sincerely, Marla Bruton Speech-Language Pathologist

Last Name: Glenn Locality: Stafford

I would like to provide comments and data on this bill. Our SLP currently has 50 students on her caseload. She is considered 'Part Time'. Within our school, she is ONLY SLP and has to toggle between therapy sessions, Local Screening, IEP meetings, Pre-School Transition meetings, and 6th grade transition meetings. It is absolutely impossible for ONE SLP to manage all of this workload being PART TIME. She deserves to be made full-time if she is expected to fulfill her duties without it causing extreme stress in her personal and professional life. She is having to work on weekends (as many of us are) and extended holiday breaks (as many of us are). When does she have any time left to devote to her family?? As an SLP who works in the education setting and provides fantastic and desperately needed services daily, she deserves the respect of being given FULL TIME status! SLPs and other paraprofessionals should also be included when SPED teachers are given raises as well! They work with the same students and share caseloads more often that not. You will be driving wonderful and highly qualified individuals out of the educational profession if something is not adjusted. Counties across Virginia are severely lacking educations and paraprofessionals because of the demands and lack of resources handed to them. If you would like more individuals to leave the profession and dig a further hole, then do nothing. I HIGHLY suggest taking steps to remedy, or to begin the process of adjusting policies/requirements for hours ASAP.

Last Name: Bryant Locality: King George

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, My name is Donna Bryant. I live in King George County and work as a speech language pathologist for Spotsylvania County Schools. This is currently my 33rd year working as a school-based speech language pathologist in Virginia. I am writing in support of HB 547 that proposes to collect data that could lead towards caseload reduction legislation for school-based SLPs. The proposed bill evaluates data for SLP staffing, recruitment and retention, tuition, differentiated pay, mentorship, and compares caseloads and compensation to neighboring states. The caseload cap for SLPs in Virginia schools is 68 students. At this point I have 62 students on my caseload. I serve students with primary speech-language impairments as well as students with autism, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and developmental delays. The students typically receive services 1-3x each week. I am responsible for: • planning and collaboration with classroom teachers for each student • developing individual education plans for each student • attending meetings to review each student’s individualized education plan with parents and teachers • online documentation for each session with each student • maintaining current reevaluation data for each student • quarterly progress reports to parents on each goal for each student Although I love my students and helping them become better communicators, the workload and paperwork associated with my current caseload is significant. I spend time at home and on weekends completing schoolwork that there is not time to complete during the school day. At times, students need to be seen in groups that are larger than is optimal, to accommodate needed meetings and student schedules. When the impact of the workload associated with each student on a caseload is considered, it becomes clear that caseload reduction legislation for speech language pathologists should be a priority in Virginia. Reducing SLP caseload sizes would benefit not only the SLPs working in schools in Virginia, but also the students receiving the services by enabling reduced group sizes and increased time to address each student’s needs. Pairing this with recruitment and retention efforts would draw SLP candidates to Virginia to fill positions. I appreciate your considering HB 547, School SLP Caseload cap. I am available to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Sincerely, Donna Bryant, MS, CCC-SLP Speech Language Pathologist Spotsylvania County Schools cdbryant@va.metrocast.net

Last Name: Sargeant Locality: Fredericksburg

I am writing in support of HB 547. I started SLP-ing in Virginia's public schools in 1976: the Bicentennial Year & the first year of implementation of our inclusive & welcoming Individuals with Disabilities Act which families of children with disabilities had to advocate for so their children could access public education (Brown v Bd of Ed -1954 was often cited back in the early days of getting this civil rights legislation passed in a bi-partisan 94th Congress). I am now on Year 40. I received my 30 year pin from Spotsy Co PS in May 2021. I love what I do. Amber Handon with Charlottesville PS, has already sent you a comment that has the supporting reasons for you to also support Del. Hudson's HB 547. We need help with recruiting and retaining SLPs in public schools, especially full-time ones that carry the current & overwhelming 68+ caseload. It's not working to patch together some part-timers who get an hourly rate to do a few students. There's no room left in the school buildings to have part-timers coming in/out throughout the day all looking for an empty room. We're using all the rooms now. We don't want Learning Cottages on the property just to add more space, even for the 'out of state' teletherapists who are now being contracted by school systems because we can't find 'in person' Virginians to work in public schools and spend their paycheck in our communities. Those out of state teletherapists still need a room for a para to walk students into for a screen session. And as per ASHA, teletherapy is just as effective as 'in person' with a small group. Ms. Handon mentions WV and NC w- caseload caps of 50. That's our competition. Really? We can have a more reasonable caseload w- the national average of 47. The whole point of IDEA is to provide speech/language therapy for a student to access the curriculum. We want to get to remediation. Not decades of therapy because we have in/outs of SLPs with no consistency in implementation from one year to the next and/or having to group when we could do a pair-up or 1:1. I was once told by my most favorite supervisor ever: Ron Branscome, Executive Director (now retired) of the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (Planning District 16: City of Fred, Caroline, King George, Spotsy & Stafford) that I approached my job with Urgency. I asked him, is that a good thing? He said sure. We need Urgency to get things done. This was during my years in early intervention birth - 2 yrs old which is Part C of IDEA before these infants/toddlers transition into Part B public schools, ages 2-21 yrs old. This situation with burdensome caseloads is URGENT. Virginia is the ONLY state that provides EI at age 2 yrs old (not 3 yrs old, like the other states do) It's something to be right proud of. We have age 2 yrs as our start for public school special education because the parents of the deaf children back in the 1940s advocated to the Virginia General Assembly that we 'invest' early in intervention & we get better results & more 'dismissals' because we've remediated the speech/language impairment. But we need a reasonable caseload number like the national average of 47 to be efficient with our therapy. That early INVESTMENT in a 47 in the long run saves Virginia public schools funding because reduced caseload equals smaller groups, more individualized attention to each student. And the students are out earlier. Not decades of therapy $$$

Last Name: Johnson Organization: Charlottesville City Schools Locality: Charlottesville

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school based speech-language pathologists. ● Speech-language pathologists provide services to students with a wide variety of disabilities such as Autism Spectrum disorders, developmental delays, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries and speech-language impairments. Our work ranges from articulation, language, social/ pragmatic skills, fluency/stuttering, feeding and students using alternative/ augmented communication systems. Speech-language pathologists also provide support and services to students without disabilities, through prevention work and Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Support. ● There has long been a shortage of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia and across the nation. Based on a fall 2021 survey of all school districts, there were 93 (full time equivalent) vacancies for Speech-Language Pathologists. ● Large caseloads may negatively impact both recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists. While three of the bordering areas do not have caps, West Virginia and North Carolina have a cap of 50. In reducing the caseload cap in Virginia, we would become more competitive for prospective speech-language pathologists near the West Virginia and North Carolina borders, as their cap is currently 18 students lower than Virginia’s. ● The need for the reduction of the speech-language pathologists’ caseload has been well established per discussion and action in 1989, 1994 and 2000 in the Virginia General Assembly. When the Virginia General Assembly reduced the caseload to 70, it included the intent of the General Assembly to reduce caseloads to a level equivalent to the national average by the year 1999. The current cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. By passing HB547, the VDOE will gather the data needed to identify the needs for SLPs in schools across the Commonwealth and create specific action plans targeting the recruitment and retention of SLPs. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Jen Johnson Speech-Language Pathologist working in Charlottesville City Schools

Last Name: Dombrovskis Locality: Greene County

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school-based speech-language pathologists. ● School-based speech-language pathologists provide direct and/or consultative services to students identified with a variety of disabilities to include: developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, sensory disabilities, specific learning disabilities, social-emotional disabilities, vision or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries, and speech-language impairments. (Students identified with speech-language needs that impact their educational performance and require specialized speech-language services demonstrate significant needs in the areas of speech sound disorders, receptive/expressive language, pragmatics/social communication, fluency, voice, and/or functional language.) In addition to providing services to students having identified disabilities, speech-language pathologists also provide preventative support and services to students without disabilities as part of their school systems’ tiered systems of support. ● In Virginia and across the United States, there has been a shortage of school-based speech-language pathologists. Numerous districts in Virginia were unable to fill speech-language vacancies for the current 2021-22 school year, leading to higher caseloads and workloads to already overtaxed school-based speech-language pathologists. ● Virginia has a caseload cap of 68 students, and many speech-language pathologists in Virginia have higher caseloads than their counterparts in other states. For example, the bordering states of West Virginia and North Carolina both have caseload caps of 50 students. High caseload numbers undoubtedly impact Virginia’s school districts’ ability to recruit and retain qualified speech-language pathologists. Reducing the caseload cap for speech-language pathologists in Virginia would assist school districts in attracting and retaining prospective speech-language pathologists. Virginia’s current caseload cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. By passing HB 547, the Virginia Department of Education will collect data to identify the needs of school-based speech-language pathologists across Virginia. VDOE will then create specific action plans focusing on the recruitment and retention of speech-language pathologists. I appreciate your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and thank you for your consideration of HB 547. Michelle Dombrovskis Speech-Language Pathologist Greene County Public Schools mdombrovskis@greenecountyschools.com

Last Name: Cooper-Gould Locality: Reston

Please support HB 547 by voting YES! Our SLP caseloads are incredibly high and understaffed across the Commonwealth. We need to investigate this problem in depth. Thank you! Diane

Last Name: Wolgamotti Locality: Fairfax

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 16 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. Please continue to support this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Sisk Organization: Campbell County Schools Locality: Lynchburg

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school based speech-language pathologists. ● Speech-language pathologists provide services to students with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum disorders, developmental delays, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries and speech-language impairments. Speech-language pathologists also provide support and services to students without disabilities, through prevention work and Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Support. ● There has long been a shortage of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia and across the nation. Based on a fall 2021 survey of all school districts, there were 93 (full time equivalent) vacancies for Speech-Language Pathologists. ● Large caseloads may negatively impact both recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists. While three of the bordering areas do not have caps, West Virginia and North Carolina have a cap of 50. In reducing the caseload cap in Virginia, we would become more competitive for prospective speech-language pathologists near the West Virginia and North Carolina borders, as their cap is currently 18 students lower than Virginia’s. ● The need for the reduction of the speech-language pathologists’ caseload has been well established per discussion and action in 1989, 1994 and 2000 in the Virginia General Assembly. When the Virginia General Assembly reduced the caseload to 70, it included the intent of the General Assembly to reduce caseloads to a level equivalent to the national average by the year 1999. The current cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. By passing HB547, the VDOE will gather the data needed to identify the needs for SLPs in schools across the Commonwealth and create specific action plans targeting the recruitment and retention of SLPs. I am available to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Michelle Sisk, M. S., CCC-SLP Speech-Language Pathologist providing services in Campbell County

Last Name: Gavin Locality: Stephens City

I am writing as a school-based speech-language pathologist (SLP) in Frederick County, VA. As with other special education positions, competition to recruit and retain SLPs is high, and job vacancies are not always filled (there were 93 reported full-time SLP vacancies in the fall of 2021 across schools in the Commonwealth). When personnel shortages exist, employee workloads often increase substantially, leading to burnout and further loss of personnel. Students should receive thoughtful, planned therapy services from highly trained SLPs. The results from a recent survey conducted by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) highlight this concern: 63% of surveyed school-based SLPs identified "lack of time to ensure the delivery of quality services to my students" as an ethical issue they had faced during the last three years (ASHA 2020 Schools Survey: SLP Workforce and Work Conditions). The current caseload cap of 68 does not account for the workload in serving 68 individual students with various disabilities and needs. Passing HB547 would ensure that the VDOE gathers needed data to implement solutions for recruiting and retaining SLPs across the Commonwealth. Thank you for your time and service. Janet Gavin Speech-Language Pathologist working in Frederick County Public Schools

Last Name: Radakovic Locality: Fairfax

Please consider the inequitable workload and responsibilities that are placed on speech-language pathologists working in the schools. Many SLPs are over stretched and are burned out as a result of high caseloads, a significant amount of special education paperwork that is considerably higher than special education teachers, time spent in countless meetings, and a lack of support from school administration and county superintendents. We need support from the statewide government in order to ensure that quality SLPs remain in VA school districts and our students' needs are met.

Last Name: Murphy Locality: Chesterfield

I am writing in support of HB 547. This bill tasks the VDOE to develop a strategic plan to recruit and retain qualified speech-language pathologists for our public schools. Just last year my county lost 20 speech-language pathologists! This service is critical for many of our students with disabilities. It can be life changing.

Last Name: Lee Locality: Fairfax, Springfield

Currently the SLP that is working at our school has a caseload of 50 students. She is the only SLP in our building and she works Mondays-Thursdays. Sometimes she requires one-on-one sessions with them, and she also has some kids that require 4 hours per month. Not only that, she has 29 evaluations scheduled for this year, which take a minimum of 8 hours to do. Her caseloads require her to have around 80 IEPs a year! I can't imagine how this could be a job that can be done within the hours in school by one person and how this can be feasible for anyone to do without getting burnt out. We are striving as a country to tell our teachers to take care of themselves, and yet we also expect our teachers to do what is best for our students. A teacher is not capable of doing both with this type of caseload. If we care about the future of this service - that many students highly benefit from- we really need to look into creating more manageable caseloads or maybe even paying SLPs on a different type of pay scale.

Last Name: Greene Locality: Centreville, VA

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school based speech-language pathologists. I am a special education teacher and work at an elementary school where our speech and Language Pathologist is a part-time teacher but she has a caseload of over 50 students. She is only paid to work 4 days a week but it still working on the 5th day to write reports, IEPs, and complete other paperwork. She has MANY evaluations each year that take 8-10 hours to complete. Every minute of the school day is filled with therapy, testing, or meetings. So, she has no time during contract hours to complete report writing, IEPs, speech language updates, etc. The caseloads for SLPs is unmanageable. The school SLP workload is not consistent with PT and OT or SPED teachers who have lower caseloads and workloads. However, school SLPS are on the teacher payscale and paid the same amount as other professionals with a different workload. I ask that you consider creating a manageable caseload cap for our hard-working SLPs.

Last Name: Frankfurth Locality: Albemarle County

I work as a speech-language pathologist for Albemarle County Public Schools. In our district, where we benefit from having the University of Virginia at our doorstep however, we still struggle annually to attract and retain SLPs. Due to our location, we frequently have spouses of UVA graduate and doctoral students that help to temporarily fill positions, and we benefit from a slightly more competitive pay. Even with these factors that many of our surrounding counties do have, we cannot fill and retain SLP positions. We have lost SLPs in the recent years due to expanded workload (with no compensation and not enough SLPs to cover the extra load). We have also lost individuals with special skill assets, such as fluency in another language, due to a lack of stipends or different salary scale to encourage individuals with these additional qualifications to stay. I urge you to pass legislation that will promote the recruitment and retention of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia schools.

Last Name: Lee Locality: Linden, VA

As a speech/language pathologist, I urge you to support lower caseloads for public school speech pathologists through HB547. I work primarily with students with intellectual disabilities who are learning crucial skills such as using a communication device to express their wants/needs and learning basic communication skills to enhance their employability. Communication is a key factor of whether students can control problematic behaviors, be gainfully employed and possibly support themselves. Due to so many workload demands such as attending screening meetings, eligibilities, evaluations, IEP's, documentation, consultations, Medicaid billing, and planning, it is difficult to provide the services in the individualized manner that these students need. Parents regularly advocate for more services for their child but more services requires lower caseloads. A differential salary scale and lower caseloads for SLP's could attract more professionals to the field which would alleviate these difficulties. Please pass this bill as a step toward resolving this situation.

Last Name: Rachal Locality: Chesterfield County

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school based speech-language pathologists. ● Speech-language pathologists provide services to students with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum disorders, developmental delays, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries and speech-language impairments. Speech-language pathologists also provide support and services to students without disabilities, through prevention work and Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Support. ● There has long been a shortage of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia and across the nation. In my personal experience, while on maternity leave recently, my district was unable to staff a temporary position to cover my leave, therefore leaving my students without services for six weeks. ● Large caseloads and low pay in comparison to Speech Language Pathologists working in other settings (i.e. Skilled Nursing Facilities, hospitals, private practices) may negatively impact both recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists in the school setting. ● The need for the reduction of the speech-language pathologists’ caseload has been well established per discussion and action in 1989, 1994 and 2000 in the Virginia General Assembly. When the Virginia General Assembly reduced the caseload to 70, it included the intent of the General Assembly to reduce caseloads to a level equivalent to the national average by the year 1999. The current cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. By passing HB547, the VDOE will gather the data needed to identify the needs for SLPs in schools across the Commonwealth and create specific action plans targeting the recruitment and retention of SLPs. I am available to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Last Name: Worcester Locality: North Chesterfield

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school based speech-language pathologists. ● Speech-language pathologists provide services to students with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum disorders, developmental delays, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries and speech-language impairments. Speech-language pathologists also provide support and services to students without disabilities, through prevention work and Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Support. ● There has long been a shortage of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia and across the nation. Based on a fall 2021 survey of all school districts, there were 93 (full time equivalent) vacancies for Speech-Language Pathologists. ● Large caseloads may negatively impact both recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists. While three of the bordering areas do not have caps, West Virginia and North Carolina have a cap of 50. In reducing the caseload cap in Virginia, we would become more competitive for prospective speech-language pathologists near the West Virginia and North Carolina borders, as their cap is currently 18 students lower than Virginia’s. ● The need for the reduction of the speech-language pathologists’ caseload has been well established per discussion and action in 1989, 1994 and 2000 in the Virginia General Assembly. When the Virginia General Assembly reduced the caseload to 70, it included the intent of the General Assembly to reduce caseloads to a level equivalent to the national average by the year 1999. The current cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. By passing HB547, the VDOE will gather the data needed to identify the needs for SLPs in schools across the Commonwealth and create specific action plans targeting the recruitment and retention of SLPs. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Kate Worcester Speech-Language Pathologist worcester.kate@gmail.com

Last Name: Stem Locality: Falls Church, VA

I currently am the Lead Special Education teacher at an elementary school. Our Speech and Language Pathologist is a part-time teacher, who works four days per week. She currently has a caseload of over 50 students, most of which are in their reevaluation year or have become newly eligible for speech and language supports and services. She has advocated that she would like to be full time, but she has not been granted a full-time position at our school. She was told that the only way that she could hold a full-time position is if she takes on a second elementary school and a second caseload. Instead, she spends the day that she is not paid to be working writing reports, IEPs, and managing other paperwork. Needless to say, she is doing the work of a full-time employee with part-time pay. Our school's principal, our speech and language pathologist, and myself have all advocated for her to be full time, but our request has been denied. As there is no current case load cap, our hard-working Speech and Language Pathologist and her peers have been slammed with too many students and an unmanageable workload. I urge you to consider creating a manageable caseload cap for these hardworking professionals.

Last Name: Gleason Locality: Charlottesville

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school based speech-language pathologists. ● Speech-language pathologists provide services to students with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum disorders, developmental delays, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries and speech-language impairments. Speech-language pathologists also provide support and services to students without disabilities, through prevention work and Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Support. ● There has long been a shortage of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia and across the nation. Based on a fall 2021 survey of all school districts, there were 93 (full time equivalent) vacancies for Speech-Language Pathologists. ● Large caseloads may negatively impact both recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists. While three of the bordering areas do not have caps, West Virginia and North Carolina have a cap of 50. In reducing the caseload cap in Virginia, we would become more competitive for prospective speech-language pathologists near the West Virginia and North Carolina borders, as their cap is currently 18 students lower than Virginia’s. ● The need for the reduction of the speech-language pathologists’ caseload has been well established per discussion and action in 1989, 1994 and 2000 in the Virginia General Assembly. When the Virginia General Assembly reduced the caseload to 70, it included the intent of the General Assembly to reduce caseloads to a level equivalent to the national average by the year 1999. The current cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. By passing HB547, the VDOE will gather the data needed to identify the needs for SLPs in schools across the Commonwealth and create specific action plans targeting the recruitment and retention of SLPs. I am available to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Jessica Gleason Speech-Language Pathologist working in Charlottesville City Schools gleasonj1@charlottesvilleschools.org

Last Name: Heck Locality: Roanoke County

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school-based speech-language pathologists. ● Speech-language pathologists provide services to students with disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries and speech-language impairments. Speech-language pathologists also provide support and services to students without disabilities, through prevention work and Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Support. ● There has long been a shortage of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia and across the nation. Based on a fall 2021 survey of all school districts, there were 93 (full time equivalent) vacancies for Speech-Language Pathologists. ● Large caseloads may negatively impact both recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists. While three of the bordering areas do not have caps, West Virginia and North Carolina have a cap of 50. In reducing the caseload cap in Virginia, we would become more competitive for prospective speech-language pathologists near the West Virginia and North Carolina borders, as their cap is currently 18 students lower than Virginia’s. ● The need for the reduction of the speech-language pathologists’ caseload has been well established per discussion and action in 1989, 1994 and 2000 in the Virginia General Assembly. When the Virginia General Assembly reduced the caseload to 70, it included the intent of the General Assembly to reduce caseloads to a level equivalent to the national average by the year 1999. The current cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. By passing HB547, the VDOE will gather the data needed to identify the needs for SLPs in schools across the Commonwealth and create specific action plans targeting the recruitment and retention of SLPs. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Susan Heck, M.S., CCC-SLP Speech Language Pathologist working in Roanoke County Public Schools sheck@rcps.us

Last Name: Fatima Organization: Fairfax County Public Schools Locality: Fairfax county, Great Falls

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 14 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature

Last Name: Urban Locality: Fairfax

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 5 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature. Additionally, schooling to become an SLP is a longer process than to become a classroom teacher. As such, SLPs should be considered for differential payment

Last Name: Kilday Locality: Charlottesville

To Members of the House Committee on Education: K-12 Subcommittee, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school based speech-language pathologists. ● Speech-language pathologists provide services to students with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum disorders, developmental delays, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries and speech-language impairments. Speech-language pathologists also provide support and services to students without disabilities, through prevention work and Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Support. ● There has long been a shortage of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia and across the nation. Based on a fall 2021 survey of all school districts, there were 93 (full time equivalent) vacancies for Speech-Language Pathologists. ● Large caseloads may negatively impact both recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists. While three of the bordering areas do not have caps, West Virginia and North Carolina have a cap of 50. In reducing the caseload cap in Virginia, we would become more competitive for prospective speech-language pathologists near the West Virginia and North Carolina borders, as their cap is currently 18 students lower than Virginia’s. ● The need for the reduction of the speech-language pathologists’ caseload has been well established per discussion and action in 1989, 1994 and 2000 in the Virginia General Assembly. When the Virginia General Assembly reduced the caseload to 70, it included the intent of the General Assembly to reduce caseloads to a level equivalent to the national average by the year 1999. The current cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. By passing HB547, the VDOE will gather the data needed to identify the needs for SLPs in schools across the Commonwealth and create specific action plans targeting the recruitment and retention of SLPs. I am available to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Carolyn Kilday Speech-Language Pathologist working in Charlottesville City Schools crkilday@gmail.com

Last Name: Matsh Locality: Prince william

Please vote for this bill. The training should be optional.

Last Name: Campbell Locality: Fairfax County

As a parent of a minimally speaking child who uses alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) to be heard, I strongly urge you to support HB547. When my child was first identified for special education services at 3 years old, the staff giving a tour of the early intervention preschool program told us that none of our children would receive speech services. Due to the severity of my child's speech needs, I assumed that would not apply to us. I was wrong. In our initial IEP meeting, we could not get the staff to agree to a speech-language evaluation. despite the fact that Infant & Toddler Connection (ITC) was already providing speech services and the ITC speech therapist was with us in the IEP meeting. We were told preschool was a language-rich environment and that would address our child's speech delay. Except our child's speech disability is due to motor planning deficits. A "language-rich environment" doesn't resolve motor planning deficits. After months of back and forth, we finally got a consultation, and that consultation only recommended one hour/MONTH of speech services. 15 minutes a week. For a child with a severe speech disability. Over the course of the next year and a half, we increased that amount to 4 hours/month, which is where we are still today. While some progress has been made, that amount is still inadequate for the severity of our child's needs and yet 4 hours a month is the unspoken cap, due to the significant staffing shortages for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and their overflowing caseloads. It is absolutely imperative that Virginia address the staffing shortages and impossible caseloads for ALL related service providers (including physical therapists, occupational therapists, & assistive technology specialists), but starting with SLPs would be an encouraging step forward. I have spoken to multiple families this year alone whose children were found to require AAC devices to communicate, and yet those same children were denied speech services that would facilitate learning how to *use* those devices. The denials of service that I and these other families have experienced are nonsensical and directly relate to the SLP staffing shortages and towering SLP caseloads. Students who need speech services the most are routinely denied access to them because schools do not have the SLP resources to meet their needs. I urge you to pass this bill ASAP and start Virginia on a better path to truly meet the needs of ALL students. Thank you.

Last Name: Bregstone Locality: Alexandria

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 52 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Bellingham Locality: Fairfax County

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 16 years. The following quote describes how all of my colleagues feel and why many leave school jobs: “It’s hard to pinpoint what the biggest issue is as a school SLP, but it really is all of the juggling. Billing, progress reports, paper data sheets, IEPs, meetings, re-evals, screenings, filing paperwork, lawyers, uninvolved parents, small work spaces, low funding, low support from school staff, lack of understanding of our role as school SLPs. I feel like if caseloads could be capped to something like 40 instead of having 60 like I do now, I’d be able to manage all of these tasks. But right now, I barely meet deadlines, my therapy is mediocre quality, and I always wish I had time/energy to give more to my kids and focus on the IMPORTANT part of the job which is treating and diagnosing speech and language disorders efficiently and in a way that is individualized to each student. It’s what they deserve and it never feels possible when it COULD BE.” https://www.slptoolkit.com/blog/dear-asha-what-school-slps-want-you-to-know/ We need help with increased staffing. You can help by incentivizing students from JMU, UVA, and Radford to stay in Virginia and work in our public schools. Please support this bill. Thank you

Last Name: Jung Locality: Fairfax County

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 8.5 years and total experience in the profession for 15 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. We work closely with general education teachers and special education teachers to screen students with communication concerns, consult/collaborate with teachers and parents, administer comprehensive communication assessments, determine and write communication goals, provide direct service, closely monitor progress, complete progress notes, write detailed and thorough evaluation reports, write reevaluation update reports, case mange more students than special education teachers at the elementary school level, run IEP meetings, complete Medicaid paperwork, and at additionally at the elementary level: attend Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and Local Screening meetings, and provide services to students who live in Fairfax County boundaries but do not attend their local public school. The more students we work with directly, the more paperwork that is required with no assistance as compared to special education teachers would have through their instructional aides. Having a cap of 45-50 students on an SLP’s caseload would allow for smaller group sizes, thorough planning for direct services, and better medicaid documentation of direct services. A smaller caseload would allow us the ability to better serve our students’ individualized needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Gewirtz Locality: Fairfax County

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 7 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each student's individual needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Shearer Locality: Fairfax

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 2 years. I am writing this because I strongly support HB 547. School based Speech-Language Pathologists serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency, and social communication. A major issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. The current caseload cap of 68 students is not manageable. Due to high caseload size, I am required to be in more meetings (IEPs, re-evaluations, eligibilities, etc.) which results in missed therapy sessions that are difficult to make-up due to my unmanageable workload. I work many hours into the night just to get paperwork done because there is not time for me to complete it during the day. In reducing the caseload cap in Virginia, SLPs would be able comprehensively serve each of each of our students’ individual needs. SLPs would also be more likely to stay in their current positions without feeling burnout. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Taylor Organization: FCPS Locality: Alexandria

Ever since I moved to Virginia, I have been met with extremely high caseloads. This impact my children's ability to learn and receive the time written on their IEP's. Each of my kids end up having about 10 minutes each of direct attention and instruction because most of my speech classes consist of large groups. This is unfair to me as a professional but more importantly unfair to my students.

Last Name: Privman Locality: Loudoun

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 15 years. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year.The role of the SLP in a school includes prevention, correction, or alleviation of articulation, fluency, voice, language, and social communication impairments. We are tasked with reducing the functional consequences of communication disabilities by promoting the development, improvement, and use of functional communication skills, and we provide support in the general education environment to alleviate the social consequences of communication impairments by facilitating successful participation, socialization, and learning (ASHA, 1999). Our responsibilities include: 1. Prevention - Provides pre-referral consultations and involved in various initiatives including RtI 2. Identification - Conducts speech-language screenings; identifies if students failing screening should be referred to Child Study 3. Evaluation: Determining Need for Evaluation - Serves as member of team for students with suspected speech-language deficits 4. Evaluation: Assessment - Conducts a comprehensive assessment to determine the existence of a disability 5. Evaluation: Interpretation of Assessment - Identifies child’s communication strengths and weaknesses; prepares evaluation report 6. Eligibility Decision - Presents speech-language assessment results at team meeting; describes the student’s functional speech and language skills as they relate to the student’s ability to access the curriculum and progress 7. Individualized Education Program Development - Drafts parts of present level of performance, IEP goals and objectives/benchmarks related to speech-language impairment 8. Intervention - Provides intervention appropriate to the age and learning needs of the individual student 9. Caseload Management - Employs a continuum of service delivery models in the LRE; meets federal and state mandates as well as local policies in performance of job duties 10. Data Collection and Analysis - Gathers and interprets data for individual students as well as overall program evaluation 11. Supervision and Mentorship - Supervises university practicum students, clinical fellows, and paraprofessionals Mentors new SLPs 12. Documentation - Completes progress reports (for special education and Medicaid) 13. Collaboration - SLPs work with individuals and agencies in the community, universities, other school professionals, families, and students 14. Unique Contributions - Addresses the linguistic and metalinguistic foundations of the curriculum 15. Professional Development - Remains current in all aspects of the profession and supports the use of EBP Adapted from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2010). Taken from “Speech-Language Pathology in the Schools”; VDOE We are often overlooked, underpaid, and disrespected, yet we continue to do our job with the highest level of professionalism because what matters most to us is our students’ progress. A smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. Thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this extremely important potential legislature.

Last Name: Bergstrom Locality: Loudoun

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 27 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. We provide services for at least 50-80 students and are responsible to case manage, which no other disciple does; Occupational Therapists (OT), Physical Therapists (PT), and school Psychologists. We service students from preschool through graduate transition services, while other school personnel typically service only one year. We are the only school personnel who screen, evaluate, re-evaluate, diagnose and treat students. We run the IEP process from start to finish. OT’s, PT’s, Psychs don’t, they just evaluate. SPED teachers and teachers don’t either. SLPs generate millions of funds for the districts through Medicaid reimbursement, but we must hold our National certification to do this. Our National certification is NOT rewarded by school districts, even though our training is more time consuming and intensive than the National teachers certification process, which receives a stipend from school systems for teachers. To comply with Federal guidelines, SLPs have a voluminous amount if paperwork as Case Managers for 5 times the amount of students than other Special Education or Related service providers. We don’t have assistants like Special Education teachers and general education teachers. Speech Pathologists are being grossly overworked in the schools. A caseload cap of 40-50 students is essential to allow us to provide the high quality of service delivery that we’ve been trained to do. Please help us! I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature. With thanks, Liz Bergstrom, M.S., CCC-SLP

Last Name: Kidder Organization: Loudoun County Public Schools Locality: Loudoun county

I am a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 17 years. School-based SLPs serve students with communication needs of varying severity levels from age 2-22. We hold Masters or Doctorate degrees, and keep up our best practices with continuing education every year in order to hold our certification. A key issue that impacts SLPs is caseload size, along with additional job requirements such as Medicaid billing, diagnostic sessions, and more. Caseload size in Virginia is enormous and does not reflect the depth and breadth of the students who require specialized communication services. We no longer are “speech correctionists”, but have to have the knowledge and time to address the proliferation of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as those who are nonverbal and require an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device. Lowering the caseload from where it stands now would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. Please take the time to consider supporting this important legislative measure. The quality of children’s lives depends on it. Thanks you.

Last Name: Bernasconi Locality: Reston, VA

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 15 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Handon Locality: Albemarle County

Comments Document

To Members of the House Committee on Education, I am writing in support of HB 547 and school based speech-language pathologists. Speech-language pathologists provide services to students with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum disorders, developmental delays, emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, traumatic brain injuries and speech-language impairments. Speech-language pathologists also provide support and services to students without disabilities, through prevention work and Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Support. Based in a fall 2020 survey of all school districts, there were 93 (full time) vacancies for Speech-Language Pathologists There has long been a shortage of Speech-Language Pathologists in Virginia and across the nation There continues to be a need for speech-language pathologists in the schools. While three of the bordering areas do not have caps, West Virginia and North Carolina have a cap of 50. In reducing the caseload cap in Virginia, we would become more competitive for prospective speech-language pathologists near the West Virginia and North Carolina borders, as their cap is currently 18 students lower than Virginia’s. Large caseloads may negatively impact both recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists. The need for the reduction of the speech-language pathologists’ caseload has been well established per discussion and action in 1989, 1994 and 2000 in the Virginia General Assembly. When the Virginia General Assembly reduced the caseload to 70, it included the intent of the General Assembly to reduce caseloads to a level equivalent to the national average by the year 1999. The current cap of 68 is well above the national average of 47. I am available to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Thank you for your time and your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia Amber Handon Speech-Language Pathologist amber.handon@gmail.com

Last Name: Keeton Locality: Fairfax County, VA

Thank you for this opportunity to submit a brief statement summarizing why this legislation should be supported. I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for almost 12 years, and I have been working in this field for almost 20 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, expressive language, receptive language, voice, fluency and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size due to the numerous requirements for supporting each individual case and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. A smaller caseload would allow us the ability to more comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. Taking care of students with special needs and their families is at the heart of what we do and the passion upon which we SLPs thrive. Lowering caseload numbers would allow us to spend more time on the tasks that directly support students and families and maximize children's progress. Moving toward this action would also increase attraction and retention of highly skilled SLPs in the Virginia schools. Thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Turcott Organization: Speech Language Pathologists Locality: FAIRFAX

Thank you for considering this important legislation. I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 22 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language (including use of augmentative communication devices,) voice, fluency and social communication. We are required to be highly qualified with a Master's Degree to serve our students. Communication is a basic human right and speech language pathologists in the school system support the development of this skill from preschool to early adulthood. As a speech pathologist who works with adolescents, I prepare students to enter secondary education or the work-force. Communication is KEY work place and educational skill. A vital issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. Our job responsibilities include scheduling, Individual Education Plan (IEP) drafting and completion, inter-professional collaboration, filing, documentation of work and billing to outside pay sources. All of the previously mentioned duties in addition to direct service delivery. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs and prepare the students to communicate effectively in all their interactions. I am grateful to Delegate Hudson, and I strongly support HB 547.

Last Name: DeThomasis Locality: Fairfax

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 8 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency (stuttering) and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature (HB 547).

Last Name: Gahl Locality: Fairfax County

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 6 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency, and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Radakovic Locality: Fairfax

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for over 11 years. During my career, my caseload size has dramatically increased from the low 40s range to the 60s and other job requirements (e.g. IEP/Eligibility meetings, Medicaid billing, trainings, screenings, etc.) I've been tasked with have increased as well. As a result, the quality of my therapy has suffered, my students are not getting the services they deserve, and my overall job satisfaction has greatly decreased. I'm required to be in more IEP/re-eval/eligibility meetings which has resulted in missed therapy sessions that are difficult to make-up due to my unmanageable workload. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow me the ability to comprehensively serve each of my students’ individual needs. It would also save school districts from lawsuits because students would be better supported with more planning time, more individualized care, and more parent communication. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Frank Locality: Fairfax County

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) currently working in Virginia’s public schools. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. Many issues negatively impact Speech-Language Pathologists' ability to effectively service students' needs, though excessive caseload sizes and the increase of non-clinical job requirements are two issues of significant concern. A smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Gibbs Locality: Fairfax County

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 2 years. I have worked in other settings as a speech langauge pathologist for over 16 years. The school position is the most challenging position I have had due to the workload (high caseload, large amount of special education paperwork and writing, high load of evaluations completed, demand to serve preschool students in addition to K-6 students, meetings, and mandated school trainings) and low compensation. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year and poor compensation. As an SLP in the public schools for many years, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature. Please consider a case load cap of 50 students for a full time employee, a pay raise to offer competitive and livable wage that matches our education and expertise and skill, and find other providers to serve preschool students so that school based SLPS (K-12) are not over-tasked with this need. If issues are not addressed, more SLPS will resign from the school setting to work in other settings that have a more manageable workload and better pay. The schools wil not be able to meet the needs of students withtout addressing the workload and compensation of school based SLPs.

Last Name: Martin Locality: Fairfax

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for 15 years. I have worked in 2 school districts, and both have had the same difficulty retaining SLPs, due to pay differentials and caseload maximum being too high. SLPs deserve higher pay in the public schools to compete with the pay scales of the private sector, both of which require the same state and national licensure and experience/qualifications. A smaller caseload would allow more individualized instruction and support to our highly diverse caseloads. Our students range from nonverbal/AAC users and some that require 1-1 support to students who are seen in the general education environment. We are inundated with paperwork, deadlines, meetings, and reports for EVERY student on our caseloads. It would also ease some of the scheduling difficulties/stress when there are fewer schedules to consider when forming groups for instruction. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency, social communication, and Augmentative/Alternative Communication. Thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature to ensure the best progress for our students with Speech Language Impairments.

Last Name: Hadley Locality: Arlington

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia’s public schools for about 2 years. SLPs serve students with varying communication needs to include the areas of speech, language, voice, fluency and social communication. A key issue that impacts Speech-Language Pathologists is caseload size and the increase of other job requirements we are tasked with each year. As an SLP in the public schools, a smaller caseload would allow us the ability to comprehensively serve each of our students’ individual needs. The difficulty of the work of SLPs is directly related to caseload size and over the last two years has become unmanageable. It causes the stress that people working six figure salaried jobs feel, however we are unable to afford to things that can relieve the stress as people with high paying jobs can. It causes serious burnout which affects the quality of service students on our caseload receive. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this important potential legislature.

Last Name: Goetz Locality: Alexandria

I am a speech-language pathologist who has worked in VA public schools for the past 7 years and I strongly support H.B. 547. In my current position, I work with students ages 2-12, with a variety of communication disorders including articulation, fluency (stuttering), language, voice, social communication, and functional communication needs. The current caseload of 68:1 is untenable for the roles and responsibilities of SLPs in public schools. A smaller caseload and workload would allow me to comprehensibly serve each student that requires my services. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider supporting H.B. 547 and I am grateful to Delegate Hudson.

Last Name: Johnson Locality: Fairfax

I am a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who has worked in Virginia's public schools for over 20 years. SLPs are respected school community members who address communication disorders that impact students educationally. Developing a strategic plan is essential to address the shortage of SLPs and the challenges the public schools face in recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees. SLPs must earn a master's degree and receive licensure through the Virginia Board of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology in the Department of Health Professions. School-based SLPs hold the same license as SLPs working in private practice and medical settings. The public schools compete with private and medical employers to hire a limited number of available SLPs due to the national shortage. Addressing the caseload cap and associated workload is one action that will help attract SLPs to the public schools and assist with the retention of quality employees, thus improving services to students. In the public schools, the current workload/caseload (68:1) is not related to present best practices and does not reflect the roles and responsibilities of the school-based SLP. SLPs are highly skilled professionals delivering federally mandated services to students under IDEA. The roles and expectations of the SLP greatly expanded under IDEA in the late 1990s, and the caseloads were never reduced to reflect the increased workload. The stress of the current workload associated with a 68:1 caseload is unsustainable. The workload pressure leads to SLPs leaving the public schools for more money and less work, making it challenging for school systems to provide mandated services to students. Reducing the large caseloads and associated workload is a complex issue that must be addressed. I am grateful to Delegate Hudson, and I strongly support HB 547.

Last Name: Senter Locality: King George

Thank you for your consideration of HB 547. I am a speech-language pathologist (SLP) with 5 years of experience working in schools, as well as three years of experience as a doctoral researcher. SLPs are valuable members of the community. We help support students who cannot produce certain sounds, students who have trouble with language (i.e., vocabulary and grammar), students who stutter, students who suffer from social/emotional/behavioral disorders, and more. I have seen firsthand many of the challenges encountered by Virginia's school-based SLPs; as our caseloads grew larger and as our responsibilities expanded, we have less time time to provide individualized services to each child with a communication disorder. These services, as you know, are mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004), and the Supreme Court's ruling of Endrew v. Douglas determined that these services must be high-quality and impactful. Overly-large caseloads can negatively impact the quality of speech-language services and students' outcomes, but these large caseloads may be preventable. Part of the problem is that many of these SLP jobs are unfilled for a variety of reasons. Possible reasons include relatively low wages compared to private positions, and even the large caseloads themselves may be a factor driving SLPs away from school settings. Even SLPs who prefer school settings may be enticed to work in neighboring states, where "caseload caps" limit the student-to-SLP ratio at 50:1, which is much more manageable than Virginia's cap of 68:1. I do not claim to know the solution to these complex problems. However, I am grateful for Delegate Hudson's H.B. 547, which seeks some of the answers to these questions through a statewide strategic plan. I strongly support this bill.

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