President JHS NHS
Chair, Communications Committee, JHS NHS
We are shocked and discouraged by the approach used to make budget cuts in our area. We protest the School Board's intent to terminate the contracts of 33 teachers in the district and implore you to search for a more reasonable solution than to simply start cutting jobs.
We fully understand that in the current economic recession difficult budgeting decisions are inevitable, but it seems the Jefferson County Superintendent and School Board have decided that slashing professional jobs is the first resort, rather than the last resort. Officials have been quoted in news reports claiming that "It is not going to impact students at all. The recommendations are not to reduce instructional programs."
We, students all, want to tell you clearly that eliminating 33 teachers will impact students very much. We can attest to the fact that smaller numbers in a classroom greatly impact the learning atmosphere. If cutting 33 teaching positions will not impact students next year, does that imply that those 33 teachers are making no positive impact this year? We reject such a position.
Other school districts, facing the same difficulties, have taken a different approach. Berkeley County is not terminating the contract of one single teacher. Not one. Other districts have reduced or eliminated stipends for extracurriculars in order to keep teachers in the classroom.
Most of us are very involved in extracurricular activities, from sports to the arts to clubs and organizations. We are athletes, actors, farmers, singers, musicians and community volunteers, but first and foremost, we are students. As important and valuable as these extracurriculars are to us, academics should always be the top priority when considering where and how to spend the school budget. Academics are our top priority; we hope they are yours.
The budget for the next school year will be finalized by March 1, so there is still time for the Board to do its homework and come up with more imaginative and creative budgeting than simply taking the easy way out and terminating teacher contracts. We implore you to search for solutions that will not reduce instructional programs.
Thank you for your consideration,
Note: This letter was sent to the members of the Jefferson County Board of Education. It was signed by members of the Jefferson High School National Honor Society.