Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"I got 99 problems..."

With the severe cuts to budgets across the country I imagine school districts everywhere are feeling these lyrics.  Not only dealing with all of the back to school stress, potentially new test taking legislation, hiring to replace teachers not returning after the summer, but doing that with hundreds of thousands slashed from your budget.

Wow.  I can't imagine.

Actually, I have a bit of insight.

Before I left for Spain I was part of my school's "Budget and Hiring Committee".  Now, I'm not really a committee joiner, but i wanted to support one of my good friends who just became our union chapter leader.  So, I spent two early days of summer, sitting through interviews and having very stressful budget conversations.  Talk about feeling like a number.  Rather, a 5 digit price, cost, expense, what have you.  While I imagine some administrators would take pause before slashing careers, mine did not.  I saw my friends (who because of last in first out were the first to go) get slashed.

 "We can get rid of 1 English and 1 History."

 No one dared use names, I bet that made it easier.

 "That will give us $140,000."

While we "get" $140,000, we are also "getting" classes maxed out at 34 students, and providing fewer elective options for students.

It's really no wonder schools across the United States (most recently South Dakota) are slashing their expenses by cutting their school week to 4 days.  Although our school mission statement states something along the lines of providing each student a full program of the core subjects all four years, many juniors and seniors in the past couple years have left after taking 3 or 4 classes.  This was of course a budgeting strategy.    I'm thinking why have kids in so few classes 5 days a week, when we can fill their programs and keep them there for 4.  Perhaps instead of offering night school for credit recovery, have kids come in on Fridays instead.  (A three day weekend would be even more incentive to pass the first time).

Either way something needs to change, our budgets are likely to keep shrinking, and there are only so many kids you can stick in a room and still have learning happen.

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