To the editor,
I really want to thank all of those that had anything to do with the planning and implementing of the STEM night at the Middle School. It was a brilliant idea and was very successful and it was so fun to be a part of it and witness the participation by students and parents.
Shifting gears to the subject at hand – A few years ago as I would call high school secretaries concerning athletic events, if they were on the four day week I would quiz them as to why they went to it and how it was working for them. Every school, with the exception of Firth, went on the four day week because of budget cut backs. Firth did it because they wanted to. Everyone of them, without exception, said that academics stayed the same or increased and student attendance was way better and so was teacher attendance.
Being in the classroom more with the teacher is conducive for a better education. Because of their positive answers and our budget concerns I wondered how it would work for Aberdeen. It was at this point that I began to call a few elementary schools and middle schools/junior high schools and district offices. I got such positive feedback that I really got fired up about it.
I’ve worked at the high school for 29 years and I have seen a dramatic change in the makeup of our Hispanic population. I have seen education become very important to the students and their parents. They graduate high school and go on to college. Their parents attend parent/teacher conferences much more than our Caucasian parents. I compliment you for your desire to give a better life to your children. Last summer I visited the Migrant Head Start school and asked them about their programs. They are focused on their students reading and speaking English. Those students will graduate Aberdeen School District knowing two languages – a very important skill in today’s world.
About ten years ago we were able to offer a wide variety of classes to the students in high school. When Cory Hollingsworth was asked to teach some math we had to clean out the athletic storage room by the wrestling room to make a classroom for him because all of the rooms were full. Over the years as teachers have left we have not replaced them, just done away with the program or asked another teacher to teach it depending on the subject. More and more classrooms became empty or used just a couple periods a day.
Last year the board decided to stay with a five day week and instead made staff and program cuts. Five teaching positions were cut between the high school and the middle school. We now have a total of five empty classrooms in the high school and two in the middle school, two bus drivers retired and were not replaced and the high school secretary retired and was not replaced. Custodians were restructured and given 17 furlough days. With all of that our budget is still in crisis condition. The state recommends having one month’s payroll in reserve – we have $40,000.
In my opinion we have three choices – Make more cuts that have a negative impact on all our students’ education and make more cuts to classified employees. These cuts are the jobs of our friends and neighbors. The Board has determined this will be a very last resort. We have good administrators, teachers, bus drivers, cooks, secretaries and custodians. They are loyal and we value them – we don’t want to take anymore from them.
Our class offerings are at the bare bones and we can’t stand any more cuts and still give all of our students a well rounded education. We looked at raising the levy much more than we did and didn’t want to do that to the patrons in this economy and with the impending closure of the Simplot Plant.
The four day week was the best and most logical solution, especially when we looked at how much more consistent, four days every week, no interruptions like now, it would give our students. By going to a modified four day week, our school day will not be the long day that other districts have. Jane (Ward) and Dena (Blaker) have been very creative that way.
I know the four day week is the simplest and best solution for Aberdeen and I would ask that we all come together and watch this work for us.