Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PE, Art, Music, SPED or ESL what will get cut...

If you have followed my blog you know that I've lost some work hours for next year as my principal was trying to add new programs to our school. While I still have decreased hours, all of his grand plans have gone down the drain as my school district has a 19 million deficit for the 2010-2011 school year. We have had a district wide hiring freeze for over a month. Leaving us without a new 4th grade teacher or a middle school math teacher.

I'm sure any teacher has been in this situation before and knows that in the end it usually works out...money is "found," budgets are re-arranged and life goes on. I am wondering how things will work out this time though.

Today is a HUGE school board meeting where they will announce the cuts they are making for the fall. They want to make cuts that effect schools across the board, not just the poor or the rich schools. Right now the major plan is to cut PE from all the elementary, middle and K-8 schools. Then they plan to cut the SPED and ESL programs by 25%. I think music already did layoffs earlier in the spring.

Ironically there has been no mention of cutting art. I think that is because there are so FEW art teachers left in the district, especially at the elementary and middle level, that even if they got rid of all of us it wouldn't make much of a dent in the budget deficit.

I think all of the cuts proposed would really hurt our school, but loosing ESL programing would be a huge blow to our 69%+ ESL population. It is not an equitable cut. Cutting, music, gym or art would be equatable, but ESL/ ELL no way. The simple fact in Portland is that the lower income schools have much higher ESL populations than the high income schools. By cutting ESL programs the high income schools will not be impacted the same way that a school like mine would. To them the loss of a ESL teacher may be an annoyance and disappointing impacting a handful of students. To us it is a disaster, especially when you look to the future and think of how the loss of services will impact students state test scores and how test scores impact a schools ability to get money and services.

I wait with an heavy heart to see the outcome of tonight's meeting.

On a fun side here is a new photo of my chickens all grown up and my new "Lady GaGa" haircut as the kids like to call it.


  1. Good luck with that board meeting. It's always interesting to see how stuff is handled in other parts of the country. I'm in NY state and the regulations for contact minutes for elementary PE are pretty stringent - art and music would be cut WAY before PE.

    But anhow, having been caught in budget cuts during my early years teaching, I do know everything loops around eventually. I was cut from my first teaching job, which i loved, after 8 years - yikes - I was still bottom of the totem pole after that amount of time. Somehow, it all worked out, because a year later, in 1985, I found myself in the job that I have held every since. I couldn't have seen the outcome back then, but now I wouldn't change a thing. Good luck whatever happens!

  2. I'm so sorry to hear of your budget woes. We had trouble two years ago but have been slowing recovering. In Arkansas, a certain number of hours per week is required in PE, so that is definitely safe here. So far, art is safe, too. Good luck at your school.

  3. This is the common sound of our school too. I understand! 2008/09 my husband lost his job (Technology Education) the same day my district announced cutting the art program. Two of us with out jobs and two minis at home. We were so scared. As you mentioned, money is 'found' and life goes on. It did for us as well. My husband got a job in my district this last year and I am still working (full time). Our state gave education 'one time' money so we are safe for the next year. This summer has been lighter and more fun then ever because we are 'safe'. In saying all this, I want you to understand we do get it. I also want you to know how you will be in my thoughts. I will be checking in to hear the (cross my fingers) good news for the upcoming year. In the mean while, try yoga, listen to your chickens sing (nice picture in the post by the way), and breath in fresh air as much as you can!

  4. we have the same problem. they are saying that there will be up to 45 in a class next year. I can't imagine that happening. The one thing I can say for art is there are so few of us and teachers need plan time. When will we come to our senses in CT and mandate art and fund schools properly through state as well as city taxes? That's what it will take for a future for our kids attending public schools. I can totally understand why people are going the private and magnet route with the budget crisis every year.