"The Shoreline Education Association, backed by many parents, blames administrators for making elementary-school students bear the brunt of the latest cost-saving measure: boosting some class sizes three weeks into the school year."
Why did this happen? A new influx of students just 3 weeks after school started? Nope.
"The district's financial troubles blew up in 2005 when a series of mistakes by top staffers resulted in a $5 million shortfall. Two years and two superintendents later, the district has balanced its $85 million budget. The state, as part of its oversight, requires the district to be out of the hole in August 2008. If that doesn't happen, the state could assign a budget manager to the district or take other steps. Last year, Shoreline was still $1.5 million in the red.
In the latest dispute, changing the elementary-school class sizes is just being responsible, said School Board member Dan Mann, who is among three of the five board members running for re-election.
"We're trying to use our resources more effectively than we have in the past," he said."So what's the situation?
"The latest dispute has to do with those class sizes at elementary schools. The district has to pay teachers extra if their classes are larger than 24 to 27 students, depending on the grade. At the beginning of the school year, Shoreline had 61 teachers with overloaded classes — an expense of about $500,000.
So starting this week at most of the district's nine elementaries, students were shuffled into different classes — in some cases combining two grades in one room — in order to designate some larger classes and keep the rest of the classes small. Then the district assigned an additional teacher to help out in the larger classes, usually for an hour or so a day. That way, the district doesn't have to pay any teachers extra.
The largest classes have about 30 students and could grow as new students move into the district."Now, those of us that have had kids in programs like Spectrum or APP don't blink at 30 kids because that's the price we pay for our program and its popularity. But to do this to parents and teachers three weeks into the school year is, well, wrong. Parents know that kids do best with consistency and moving kids around is not consistency. Also, sticking an extra teacher in for an hour or so a day to save money is kind of pathetic. Also, what if you didn't want a combined grade level class?
If this was so important to do, why do it 3 weeks into the year?
To end the conversation, here's what the Board president had to say:
""I don't think the strike is going to change what's going on, and I think it sends the wrong message to the community," board president Mike Jacobs said. "Frustration and disappointment are my primary emotions at this point.""
Hey Mr. Jacobs, I'll bet there are lots of parents, teachers and students in Shoreline who would second that emotion.