PATERSON, NJ- While still maintaining a backlog of nearly 27,000 hours of compensatory speech services from previous years, Paterson Public School officials announced Thursday that they are “making headway in providing the services students need.”

According to statement issue by Superintendent Eileen F. Shafer, the District provided 5154.6 hours of compensatory services between December 1 and May 30, bringing the total to 11622.6 hours of these services being delivered this academic year.

Public school districts are required to provide speech therapy services to students who have then included in their individual education plan., or IEPs.

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“Our work is far from over,” Shafer said crediting a “concerted and focused effort” on the progress being made.

Schools officials also announced that the demands for speech therapy services, delivered by 48 professional through the District, continues to grow. To date, the statement read, 35794.76 hours of regular speech therapy have been delivered since September, an increase of 41 percent over 2017-2018.

Included in efforts to match the demand with services Paterson Public Schools began offering speech therapy sessions on Saturdays earlier this school year.

“Our students are our highest priority, and that motivates us to keep working through the challenges we face,” Chief of Special Education Cheryl Coy said. “While our progress is encouraging we will not be satisfied until our work is done in getting through this backlog and providing our students the services they need.”