Sadly ... I feel as though I have another Debbie Downer post for today. Wah wah. I spent my Friday night at a four hour-long school board meeting last night, as the board voted unanimously to cut several district-wide programs. Like many other states, Indiana is experiencing extreme budget cuts in the field of education - our small district alone is facing $4.2 million in cuts to our school district.
The board last night stressed that the cuts they voted for are across-the-board cuts. But ... that's just not true. The cuts made primarily affect at-risk students and elementary-aged students. Among the programs/people cut are:
- The alternative high school, which will experience a huge reduction in force and be moved into an existing high school, completely changing the atmosphere and amount of kids being served
- The Teen Learning Center (TLC), where students go to take GED classes, take online high school classes for credit recovery, etc.
- All elementary and junior high librarians
- Elementary strings/music programs
- The Youth Outreach program - for at-risk junior high students
- The Healthy Schools Coordinator, who - besides being a friend of mine, writes grants and creates programs to promote a healthy, drug-and-alcohol-free lifestyle for teens
- An entire elementary school
- 75 teachers across the entire district, including 10 teachers from each high school
Friends ... I am just ill over these cuts. My already at-risk students are losing so many other supports and programs. I am so worried. They need as much help they can get ... and at this point, the only program remaining is ... mine. I wish people like good old Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, realized that they are setting my kids up for failure. The less supportive programs for at-risk kids, the lower the graduation rate. And the lower the graduation rate, the less money the schools receive. The less money the schools receive, the more cuts will occur next year. As it is, we've been informed that this is a three-year process, and next year the cuts will be far worse.
Cutting programs like music and librarians - well, now we are taking away programs that allow students to feel as though they have an identity within their schools. Many studies have shown that school disengagement starts as early as 4th grade. 4th grade! The more seemingly extraneous programs we cut, the less opportunities students have to find their niche ... and the more disengaged they will become.
This is a vicious cycle and I am so worried about my kids. Please, Indiana, help our at-risk kids!