Friday, June 25, 2010

Branchburg Bars

(Warning - this is a little long, but I had to get it off my chest.)

Two weeks ago I sat in the audience at a Board of Education meeting.  This was part of my view.  The window is above the dais and the combination of the flagpoles and the electrical lines I saw through the window formed a pretty neat pattern but also reminded me of bars on a window much like you would see in  a jail. 

How apropo that a lot of us were feeling locked up.  We were locked in a place where no one was making the very important decisions that needed to be made.

In April our Governor decided to cut state funding and thus produced some severe cuts to our school budget.  The budget, even though it was trimmed to the bones, was defeated by the public.  A defeated budget then goes to the Town Council who decides how much more money has to be cut and makes suggestions to the Board of Education of ways to do it.  We had heard that our Town Council would be compassionate in not asking for much more money to be cut knowing that the Governor had basically screwed us already. 

Well whoever started that rumor was so wrong.  The Town Council decided to ask for another $2M to be cut and offered suggestions.  They also said that they would reconsider the amount if their "math" could be proven wrong.

Our Business Administrator rolled out the facts and figures and it was hoped that the council would re-evaluate and lessen the amount.  Hope proved futile.

They did lower it, but were still asking for $1.5M - more than any other school district in the state!

The Board doesn't have to take the suggestions that the Council makes, but they do need to come up with that dollar figure and they've been working on coming up with these cuts since April.  Much too long! 

Decisions needed to be made and unfortunately they weren't being made in a timely manner.  Oh yes, the Board was working on the budget, but it wasn't going anywhere.  We were pretty much kept in the dark until earlier this week.  It was then that the agenda for the meeting of the 24th was released.

In the school that I work in our Library/Media Assistant and several Student Aides were let go.  And although none of the teachers who work in my school lost their jobs, several of them were reassigned to other schools.  We will be sharing positions of the specials teachers next year with our sister school and going to a 6-Day schedule.  Our Board of Education cut 20% of the staff - 60 teaching positions.

Up until last night, I was genuinely concerned that my job as a school clerk was on the line.  As it turns out, I will have it - at least for another year.  I say this because the governor is promising more cuts and more budget caps for the next year.  If that is the case, more positions will definitely be lost.

I feel that this is going to have a hugely negative impact on the education of our children in the State of New Jersey.  Increasing class size and eliminating programs, and in some instances extra-curricular activities, cannot amount to a quality education.  We are taking a step backward.  People are blaming it on the economy.  People are blaming it on teachers.  People are saying that making these cuts will fix everything.  Others are saying that this is just the tip of the ice berg. 

Although I work for the school system and I am not a teacher, I did work as a substitute teacher for 15+ years before I took my office job and I can tell you that anyone who thinks that teachers don't work as long or as hard as people in the corporate world have to be amongst the most narrow-minded and uninformed.

What I'd really like to know - in this world of political correctness - is how it became acceptable to publicly attack someone's profession with such hostility?  That has been the norm lately where the teaching profession is involved.  "They make too much."  "They get too many benefits."  "They have summers off - what are they complaining about!"  If these people think that it's so easy then why didn't they become teachers?  I think this is directly related to the lack of respect by the students.  They hear what is being said negatively and unfortunately it is making an impression.

I could go on, but I've stressed out about this enough for one week.  If you've read to the end, thank you for listening.


  1. This entire story is going on in way too many towns Lorriane! We have a beautiful new library and they have let all the shelvers go and have closed it on Sunday and are now thinking about weeknights. I could go on and on about both subjects but will step down off my soapbox and say..I feel ya gf!! Hope you can have a nice weekend..make someone nice a card and surprise them...or work in that lovely garden! Can`t wait to hear what you do with those darling plates!!! Hugs again, Judi

  2. Well, I am glad that your job is safe for a time yet. I remember you mentioning those budget cuts a while back, and that they might impact you. I am not a teacher - it's not a career I'd choose in a blue moon - but my dad was a teacher and I have many friends who are, and I think that they deserve a lot more respect than they get. And boy, do they ever need those holidays. I was talking to a young friend the other day just doing his final exams and hoping to do junior school teacher training if he does well enough in his exams. He says he wouldn't teach secondary (high shcool) for love or money, though, because at least with the younger ones you don't have to deal with attitude.
    There are funding issues here too - even private fee-paying schools are on endless fund-raising drives. But investing in education is investing in the future of the country! And for special needs and disabled kids it's even harder. Each year my brother and his wife don't know whether there will be a class assistant for my oldest nephew, who wouldn't be able to attend mainstream school without.

    I hope you have a good weekend after all that. And what a brilliant photo to illustrate it.

  3. I'm glad you spoke. What a mess for you and the kids. I hope someone learns to appreciate the right people, teachers and their support staff. I have a teaching degree and know the value of teachers. Sorry for all the worry for you. Do what is right and it will work out somehow. Trust in the Almighty.

  4. I agree with you 100 percent.. My daughter is a teacher and she works so hard for so little respect. I am so thankful you have a job for another year. Our schools here in NC are running on little to nothing.. I am not sure how these kids are ever going to get an education if the keep getting rid of all the staff... Huge hugs and vent away...

  5. Lorraine, thanks for sharing your story. I am glad to hear that your job is safe for another yet. At the same time, it is sad to me where our society puts priorities. My hope is that we will continue to move in a direction where we recognize what is truly important in life and begin to value those we entrust with the education of children.

  6. Our city actually took the money our schools had the for-site to save. We have gone without raises teachers/support staff for 4 years, only to have it taken to fund a rec center and more crap this city does not need. So I feel ya, every one on edge here. for the coming year(s) on what is going to be cut, including the drivers. Hugs♥


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