As more than 30 teachers in the Jefferson County school system received Reduction-in-Force (RIF) notifications, we at The Chronicle were a bit skeptical at a comment made by Superintendent Susan Wall who said that these potential lay-offs would not affect student education.
If these teachers should not have their contracts renewed and that possibility is still being discussed one could pose the question of who will do their jobs. If their elimination from the system will not affect the education of the students, why were they in the system to begin with?
We find it highly unlikely that the loss of that many professional teachers will not in some way inhibit the teaching of our students. If a middle school in the county faces the loss of its foreign language teacher, who will pick up those classes and prepare those students for high school foreign language? Will the middle school program simply be eliminated? What of the math or history teacher who does not have the highest seniority? Are the teachers who remain expected to pick up more students per class or schedule more classes in a day?
While property tax values have gone down, the Board of Education and Superintendent Wall were aware that the decrease in revenue was coming. One would hope that they have taken measures before now that will address revenue shortfalls in a manner that does not affect so many educators and students.
One would hope, as well, that the Board of Education members have a continuing role in addressing this budgeting issue. President Peter Dougherty's comments at the Jan. 10 meeting that all decisions at that point had been made without input from the Board members show us that these members need to be more involved in the process. The future of not only those who face job loss, but the students of Jefferson County, lie in the hands of these few individuals. Their top priority should be to provide the best education possible to our students. Again, we believe that the possible elimination of faculty members will have a direct impact on that quality of education.