Sunday, March 22, 2009

3.5 million?!

Finally! I'm done with the worst of the National Board crap. I'll post later about this, but let me tell you, that was the most annoying thing I have ever had to do. But enough about that for now. Let's talk about the 3.5 million dollars the district has to cut by next year.

This has most of our teachers in a fury. I know it's a recession and all, but it's not exactly like we were wasting the money. Contrary to what most people think, schools run fairly efficiently (district offices may be another matter). We have to. The No Child Left law requires us to move heaven and earth to make sure all our students pass the WASL but gives us no money to do it with, so we're used pinching pennies so hard they squeak in protest.

Anyways, our district is turning to us to figure out where that 3.5 million is going to come from. There's a few solutions, none of them good.
1. Cut teachers. This isn't a really feasible solution, since less teachers mean larger class sized. Our class sizes are around 32-40 as it is. Most classrooms are built to accommodate 30 students, so there isn't room for any more students. Unless we knock out a few walls. Which costs more money.
2. Cut team planning time so we can cut teachers. This, unfortunately, is the one the district would like. I currently teach 5 classes and I have one personal prep (for copying, lesson planning, grading, cleaning, etc) and one team planning prep so I can meet with the other teachers to talk about students in trouble, where everyone is in science and what sections we can cut to get everything in by the end of the year, what occurred in all the various meetings, etc. I've worked in a district without team preps and I can tell you, there's nothing frivolous about them. A lot of communication that has to occur can happen at this time instead of in the halls after school, when only half the teachers have the time to talk. If we cut this time, we can all teach one more class and we can get rid of one more teacher.
3. Get rid of any extra stuff such as copy machines (which won't cover the 3.5 million, so we'll still need to cut teachers). You can see the trend by now. No matter what we do, someone's gonna be without a job.

Our population is growing and there's really no way we can afford to get rid of teachers, but there's also no way we can afford to keep them all. Our district currently gets 50 million a year to service our area. We need to get rid of roughly 7%. When 85% of your money is tied into personnel, there's no way around it. Someone's gonna get axed.

Chances are, your district is cutting too. Do you know how much? You might be surprised to find out what is being removed to accommodate the cuts. Or who.

What can you do? Well, the federal stimulus may save us a few people, so you might want to make sure your state is accepting stimulus monies. And if not, let loose a bee in your governor's bonnet. Other than that, find out in May who's getting cut (usually new teachers) and help them out however you can. Hopefully they'll find another job. But in areas where other districts have to cut teachers too? Some of these teachers may be moving out of their homes in the near future.

Give us a hand if you can. Support stimulus money. Support legislation that gives money to schools. And bake your child's teacher something. You'd be surprised how much a chewy chocolate brownie helps.

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