Today is the chance for most of us across the state to vote on local school budgets. Many of these budgets cut academic and athletic programs, increase class sizes and include a number of sacrifices from teachers and staffs. So yes, many employee unions are holding their noses as they urge people to vote “yes” because if voters say “no” it will be so much worse. Here’s a link to a historical perspective from the Albany Times Union.
That piece talks about 475 education job cuts on the table in the Capital District alone. Some of those are full cuts. Some are reductions from full-time to part-time positions. As I enter my fourth week of jury duty, I’d like to add this thought to working part-time: It stinks. It stinks for the person who tries to do a full-time job on a part-time basis and it’s even worse on those left behind who try to pick up some of the workload.
It makes me think about those growing class sizes. Everyone knows (at least since Project STAR at the elementary level) that it’s better for learning to have a smaller to reasonable class size. But one of the most popular ways to save funds is the jack up that class size and cut a salary. I also think about schools that only have a nurse for half a day, or a librarian or cleaner for two or three days a week; the justification is that, at least there is some coverage.
Nope, it’s bad all around: either when someone who you used to be able to depend on isn’t there every day or when there is a change in your workload (like only have 20 students in a class and then suddenly you have 33).
Increasingly across the state, doing far more with far less is becoming the norm. Here’s NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi’s take on it from a Friday rally in Syracuse.
It is a very hard choice to vote yes on budgets that are devastating so many districts across the state. But do it. Hold your nose, swallow your pride, do whatever you have to do, but find your local polling place and vote.
I guess the silver lining for me is the promise that NYSUT will join with others in figuring out a way to change this tax cap so it doesn’t widen the funding gap that already exist. Obviously, more on that later.
Please comment here, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800 342-9810, ext 6283, with any budget stories you want to share, successes or failures.