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BV’s cuts have teachers concerned

MANLIUS – In the last few months, the Bureau Valley School Board has looked for ways to cut next year’s budget in order to lighten the district’s financial burden, but their choices of where to make cuts have teachers concerned about the long-term effects on the education system and employees in the district.

Ann Lusher, president of the Bureau Valley Education Association (BVEA), read a letter to the board at Monday night’s board meeting on behalf of the BVEA to highlight how the cuts will affect student education and make Bureau Valley a less attractive working place for teachers and staff.

“We as a staff acknowledge that sacrifices are necessary, but as teachers, we strongly feel that the quality of the education of our students should not be sacrificed,” she read.

In April, Superintendent Dennis Thompson announced next year’s budget would see about $475,219 in cuts. The cuts included phasing out the German language program, reducing industrial arts and home economics, releasing a tech support employee and a physical education employee, retiring two teachers and changing the staff insurance coverage.

According to the letter Lusher read aloud, the changes will reduce the ability to address the social and emotion needs of students and affect teachers’ capacity to meet the goals of the new Common Core standards because of increased class sizes.

“High school departments directly affected (will) include special education, vocational technology, physical education and English,” she read.

Lusher read Common Core requires considerable writing and evaluation of writing to meet students’ standards, which requires considerable time spent on writing and evaluation.

“With the increased class sizes, an English teacher could easily spend 18 hours evaluating one single course’s essay assignment,” she said. “Imagine the time it would take to grade the recommended one essay per month.”

According to the letter, the BVEA also believes the changes may affect attracting new “highly qualified” staff.

“It is true the increased class loads due to staff cuts and the newly-decreased benefit packages will save the district money. However, it’s not unreasonable to say the proposed savings package will come at significant personal expense to your staff and faculty,” Lusher read.

The BVEA letter pointed out that many new teachers may take better paying jobs with better benefits elsewhere.

Following Lusher’s reading, Bureau Valley Board President Rick Cernovich said he speaks with high confidence in saying the new board shares the same goals as the teachers when it comes to the quality of education at Bureau Valley. He said the board looks forward to figuring out how best to meet their needs and will be calling on them to get their input in the future.

In other business, the board:

• Heard from Dave Shepard of the BV Athletic Booster Club as he announced the club would donate the needed $38,000 to repair the high school track. He presented the board with a check for $15,000 and said at the end of September, the boosters will make another payment for the remaining $23,000.

•  Heard from librarian Sharon Peterson the high school library recently received a $4,512 Back to Books grant, which will fund the purchasing of about 175 books. Peterson said she requested non-fiction, social issue and current events titles to update the library’s current collection. The books will be available for check-out by the next school year.

•  Recognized the 2012-13 staff retirements, which included Judy Stutzman, Gerald Nixon, Connie Hahne, Lois Behrens, Mary Jo Rosenow and Linda Carr.

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