Updated: Sun, Feb 28, 2010, 8:38 am
Uploaded: Sat, Feb 27, 2010, 2:48 pm
School anxiety high as cuts loom
Class size increases are being considered along with eliminating some high school counselors and other staff reductions in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District as it faces a $30 million budget deficit over the next two years.
"We're trying to be as transparent as possible," said district spokesman Terry Koehne. "But this is a difficult time. It inherently creates a lot of anxiety in the schools and with the staff."
Superintendent Steve Enoch presented a list of possible reductions at the school board meeting Tuesday that included losing administrative and support staff as well as two middle school assistant principals for a savings of $1.5 million.
Eliminating eight full-time counseling positions in the high schools, increasing grades kindergarten through third to 28 students plus having larger classes in middle school, ninth grade and for ROP classes could save another $6.4 million.
"The recommendation is to reduce counseling services by 30 percent," said Enoch's report. "This would require noticing all counselors as any modification to the case load must renegotiate with SRVEA (San Ramon Valley Education Association)."
Reducing custodial support and eliminating crossing guards would result in another $455,000 savings.
Enoch also looked at shifting categorical funds to the general fund as follows:
• Reducing summer school by 50 percent ($194,000)
• Maintenance "sweep" - previously restricted money from major maintenance projects that the state now allows to be used to fill the budget gap ($2.4 million)
• Instructional materials fund ($700,000)
• Reduction of Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment ($259,810)
These hard decisions will be made at the March 9 meeting, after negotiations are held that day between the district and the SRVEA.
"The district is hoping to receive employee concessions," said Koehne. "That is happening around the entire state. Districts are in the same situation - the more the burden is shared, the more we can preserve jobs."
Other districts have instituted furlough days, which are days off without pay. This reduces annual earnings for employees but would be structured so a full service year would still be credited toward retirement, according to the district Web site. Each furlough day for all employees saves the district approximately $750,000.
The School Board must make these decisions about teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses and administrators no later than March 15, when layout notices are mandated by the state to go out.
The district will also negotiate with the non-teacher units, CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association) and SEIU (Service Employees International Union), but they are not subject to the March 15 deadline, said Koehne.
The School Board meeting on March 9 will take place at 7 p.m. at the Education Center, 699 Old Orchard Drive in Danville.
Posted by Disappointed Teacher,
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 5:55 pm
You clearly have not been in or around any classroom in our district lately or you are completely ignorant! As it seems you have quite a bit of spare time on your hands to complain, I would love to invite you to come spend ONE day teaching my students. Let me give you a brief picture of what your day may be like. Be sure that upon your arrival you have planned and prepared standards based appropriate lessons that include extensions for those students in your class that need a challenge provided, as well as re-teach activities that the group of struggling students will need in order to grasp the concept today. Please note that theses groups will be different in every subject you are teaching today. During Writer's Workshop be sure they are writing five page stories with incredible writing craft like adult authors with character development, descriptive language, and detailed plots. You need to be sure that they are all reading at standard and you are filling in the holes for those that did not attend kindergarten or may not have all their sounds mastered yet before they got to you. You will then need to take them and ensure you have given them adequate structured P.E time during the day because the district has cut elementary P.E instruction. Don't forget that you need to take them into the computer lab so that they can work on the computers that are so old they are beginning to crash one by one, and teach students to create documents, find information on the web, and be technologically literate. Unfortunately, there is not anyone that can support you in this endeavor but it is mandated by the district that you be implementing technology even when all students are sharing one computer because your campus does not have the necessary technology they are mandated to be using. Above and beyond the delivery of quality differentiated instruction today you will also need to ensure that each child is feeling safe both physically and emotionally, you will referee their disagreements and help them resolve disputes because most of the children don't have these skills yet. They need greater development of social problem solving skills due to the fact they don't have the necessary time in Kindergarten to develop social skills as academics, increasing standards, and technology training are being pounded into them earlier these days. There are no counselors, or supports for you to lean on because the district has already taken those away. Be hopeful that no one gets hurt unless you have the benefit of it being Friday because you will be responsible for tending to their first aide care as there is no nurse on campus until Friday. Don't forget that you also have playground supervision twice today, and you will need to spend any additional recess and lunch time grading the papers and assessments from the day, responding to parent emails, reading district emails, and updating the classroom website all because your prep time has been eliminated. At some point you will try to squeeze in eating and possibly a restroom break-but good luck. At the end of the day be sure that your special helpers empty the trash from your room because custodial services have been cut and there will be no cleaning of your room at night. Rush off to your staff meeting where you will be informed of new cuts and more added duties to your workload. Before you leave be sure you prepare for the next day's curriculum and activities and prepare for your 7:30am meeting with parents and administration to discuss interventions for a struggling student. Please be prepared to stay until at least 6pm before you finally pack up more manuals, papers that need reviewed and graded, and items that need to be prepped and assembled for the week's activities and commute 2 hours home where you see your own son for 1 hour prior to him going to bed. Finally after he is asleep pull your school bag out and continue working all to do it over again tomorrow. Oh, and did I mention those 28 students you are responsible for are six years old? I'm not sure the last time you were responsible for ensuring that 28 six year olds were all engaged and working on task for 7 hours, however, I would love for you to come share with me your expertise in this area as apparently I am a "uselessly numerous unionist" and the job that I do day in, day out, on the weekends, and throughout the summer to ensure the students in your community are well educated is not important to you! I understand that you feel I have "vacations" and "summers off" perhaps you would like to attend and pay for the numerous classes, seminars, and trainings my colleagues and I take over the summer to stay up on the newest teaching methods, or the extra suitcase that I pack of "school work" that goes on my family vacations. Or how about attending the numerous grade level meetings we have over the summer refining our program and implementing new curriculum and ideas only to be told 3 days before the school year begins you will be teaching a different grade at a different school because the district has decided to collapse your class. Yes, I only get paid for 186 work days a year but I guarantee you I am working well beyond the 8 hours/day for 186 days I am being paid for. I have been a teaching in this district for 7 years and I'm certainly not making the $87,000 a year that Dan claims teachers here are making! In actuality we are making pennies when you divide our salary by the amount of hours we devote to the children in this community. Can I manage 28 students? Absolutely! Can I handle the "hijackers" in the crowd? Absolutely! Will the quality of students' education decrease as a result of class size increase? Absolutely! Student behavior is not the issue here. It is the differentiation that is made possible by class size reduction. It is the one-on-one attention in the early years to challenge students, or support struggling students. When you increase class size you loose the ability to meet students' individual needs as thoroughly as you can at 20:1. I meet with all of my students each week. I check in, hold reading conferences, writing conferences, etc. I know where they are struggling and where they are finding success. With greater class sizes that won't be the case. It will mean monthly meetings. Now how can my day to day instruction be as meaningful and on target if I can only check in with students each month because I have too many to see? Your comments make me sick -knowing that my colleagues and I are here in the trenches working as hard as we can because we love the students and want them to be successful academically, emotionally, and socially, and to think that you think so little of us as people and of the work we do just completely blows me away. We love our students, our schools, and our job. I knew that going into the teaching profession would not be an easy road, it would not be for the money (however, I too have a morgage that needs paid and bills that need attention. I can't work for free.) It was not for "summers off" (because anyone that knows a teacher...knows that is not the truth), but I thought at least I would be respected as a professional. I was not aware of how unappreciated teachers in this district truly are nor can I tell you how deeply your comments and opinions sadden me!