Chop the school day? Harris says "no"

“ParentsPstcrd_040910.jpg” by Flickr user Carolyn_Sewell.

After much hoopla and a continuing understanding of what Gov. Kasich proposes to offer schools next year, Supt. Gene Harris is recommending that we retain the eight-period day in middle and high schools. We thank her because these types of cuts would devastate the academic program, especially the middle school unified arts program and high school electives. Experts in medicine, psychology and education concur: Physical activity and participation in the arts improves academic performance.

We realize this means that changes are coming to the Article 211 calendar. Human Resources will not be able to post positions by the contractual deadline of the first work day in April. Even though this is inconvenient for our bargaining unit, it is a small price to pay when jobs are restored. CEA will agree to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to change some of the dates in the Article 211 calendar. These are the new dates proposed:

April 11-15: Staff members are notified of administrative reductions

Apr. 11: 211 training for district offices, 8-10 a.m.; and Regions I and II elementary and middle schools, 1-3 p.m.; Northgate

Apr. 12: 211 training for high schools, 8-10 a.m.; and Regions III, IV and V elementary and middle schools, 1-3 p.m.; Northgate

Apr. 19-24: Round 1 postings

Apr. 25-30: Round 1 interviews

May 10-14: Round 2 postings

May 15-20: Round 2 interviews

May 29-30: Job fairs

 

The layoffs are coming

Supt. Harris has proposed to the Board of Education cuts amounting to $25 million eliminating more than 300 positions, curtailing services and discontinuing some programs. The Board will discuss the proposal and may vote on these recommendations at a special meeting on Monday, Mar. 11.

One of the recommendations is to reduce a class period in middle and high schools. This means a seven-period day starting next school year. Is this the best the administration can do? When they implemented this strategy seven years ago, it had a devastating effect on the academic program and minimized opportunities for our students.

A seven-period day limits availability of space in schedules, hinders students from academic excellence and reduces the teaching force, especially in elective areas. A student’s plan to attend a career center may be out of reach. Students may not meet requirements to get in to some colleges and universities requiring more than the minimum that would be offered in our high schools.

In middle schools, the best part of the day for many students is participation in unified arts. Research shows that an increase in physical activity and participation in the arts result in improved academic performance. We can expect a rise in discipline referrals and a decline in student attendance and achievement when these programs are cut.

We understand that reductions need to be made. However, the administration’s goal of not impacting the classroom is far from met. The CEA and OAPSE units have been hit particularly hard. From 2008-2012, CEA lost 26 percent of its bargaining unit, with OAPSE losing 19 percent. During that same period, there has been a mere 3 percent reduction in central office administrative positions.

Currently, there are 108 central office administrators. What do all these administrators do? Are their jobs more important than, say, a kindergarten teacher’s? You decide. We call on 270 East State Street to cut themselves as deeply as they intend to cut us.

Cutting the middle and high school day by a period is not the only cut the superintendent is proposing, but this certainly would be the single largest cut in the budget. History tells us these cuts are not the only ones that will affect CEA bargaining unit positions this spring. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

To view the recommended budget reductions, go to http://bit.ly/ccs14cuts.

 

"The Education Mayor"

“As a community, we should encourage, promote and replicate the best of what works in education. We must support success and replace failure.”

This is just one thing Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said on Feb. 21, delivering his State of the City address at South HS.

Mayor Coleman does not want to run the school district. He does want to help us connect with community leaders, families and others who care about our kids, so we can work together to improve outcomes for them.

He talked about a number of city initiatives. But the impact of his report centered on education. You can read his speech at http://mayor.columbus.gov/.

Here are some sound bites:

About preschool: “We need the private sector, non-profits, faith-based organizations, along with the state and federal government to help us fund and deliver this essential foundation of a quality education.”

About technology: “Most Columbus schools have only three to five computers per classroom. This is clearly inadequate.”

About excellent schools: “Unfortunately, we don’t have enough good schools in Columbus. When you combine Columbus City Schools and charter schools, only 5 percent of schools earn an ‘A’ rating. That means only 2,800 of 65,000 students go to excellent schools. Meanwhile, five times as many students attend failing schools-both district and charter. This is unacceptable and needs to change.”

Here’s what he covered:

Operational efficiency: “We must use the Columbus City Schools operations review to find more efficient ways to deliver district services.”

Teacher and principal excellence: “We must make it a priority to attract and retain the best teachers and the best principals for our schools.”

Quality Pre-K: “We must make it a community priority for every child to have access to Pre-K education, regardless of income.”

Closing the digital divide: “We must give teachers and students direct, individual access to classroom technology, beginning at the middle-school level.”

Encouraging successful schools: “We must encourage and replicate good CCS schools and, ultimately, replace the ones that consistently fail; and we must embrace and recruit high-quality charter schools and find a way to close the bad ones.”

CEA applauds the mayor for speaking out on these important issues. He is concerned about the future of our city, and much of its success is tied to education. That is why he, along with Council Member Andrew Ginther, formed the Columbus Education Commission. This is a community-wide commission designed to provide feedback and recommendations. CEA President Rhonda Johnson sits on the CEC. Keep reading your Voice for reports from the commission’s meetings.