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.