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What are you doing next week? I’ll be at budget meetings. Why? Well, this is the message from my superintendent on our district Web site:
Superintendent’s message (SCUSD)
Lots of doom and gloom about how can we be expected to continue to improve education (and test scores) if you keep cutting out budget. I work in what has been a shrinking district. As housing prices went up, and folks moved out of the city, to the newer suburbs, the folks moving in either don’t have children, or privately school them. The recent budget woes of the state are only going to exacerbate cuts, because at least with attrition based cuts we were serving fewer students, now we really have to do the same (actually more since the NCLB bar is going up this year) with less. She references the fact that they have sent out notices to more than 300 certificated staff (mostly teachers). That is a lot of pink slips. By law, the slips go out just before testing, which is not a great time to create job insecurity in your staff.

Now here is the message from the school district where I live:
Superintendent’s Message (NUSD)
This is a district in what has been a growing area, where lots of new homes were built, lots of new schools are opening, and lots of developer fees were coming in. Now, it has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the area (a metro area already making the national top ten list for this). He’s talking about the achievement gap (the district has had an influx of black and Latino students as those families have moved out the central cities. Times are not great here, but that superintendent has opted to not give any pink slips to teachers. He feels that it is divisive, and is too harmful to morale.

Two schools of thought. I think Dr. Farrar is correct that it is very divisive. We have 5 teachers who were pink slipped and one who is on a one-year contract (with no hope of having the position renewed). That is out of a classroom teaching staff of 22. Six out of 22 teachers. That’s between 1/3 and 1/4th of our teachers.

Look at Dr. Meija’s letter. She is not happy about the cuts, and is trying to use them to motivate the community (teachers, parents, etc.) to oppose the budget cuts coming down. Pink slips are a way to do that, but at what cost?

Is Dr. Farrar being irresponsible by insisting he will never issue pink slips? Does this just invite those above to keep cutting his budget because he’ll try to have his district make do somehow? Is he perhaps cutting essential programs, when it might be better to cut teaching positions?

My own sense is that there are not a lot of easy answers to these questions. I understand the power of the pink slips. It’s getting me to go to some district meetings next week, and I’ll happily march down to the Capitol to have my say there as well. We’re 45th out of 50 in per pupil spending (accounting for the higher cost of living in this state and other factors). That’s pathetic for a state that has a GDP ranking that would make us the 7th, 8th, or 10th largest economy in the world.

Leave a note at Gail Desler’s Week in a Sentence Voice Thread about Pink Slips:

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