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Budget CutsOur superintendent attended our last faculty meeting and dropped the bomb by...

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 15, 2010 at 12:03 PM via web

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Budget Cuts

Our superintendent attended our last faculty meeting and dropped the bomb by saying, "It's not a matter if salaries will be cut for teachers across the board; it's a matter of when.  Just prepare yourselves."

How many others are facing this?  I am grateful that there are budget cuts and not mass layoffs, but holy cow!  Taxes are going up, food is going up, the economy is tanking, gas is outrageous, and the tax breaks that we've all gotten for the last few years are expiring this year. 

What are you all doing to make ends meet?  What resources have you found?  Let's share here to help each other out...  one thing I've done is plant a garden.  If you do this, be sure to get heritage or heirloom seeds so you can use them next year to produce another crop.  The seeds collected from hybrid plants won't produce.

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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted April 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM (Answer #2)

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In our state the funding for education is short for the current year. The state will pay us at least 2% less than we should get for the current school year. We are being warned that this is probably as good as it is going to be for the next several years. Not sure what is going to have to happen to make things better.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 15, 2010 at 4:07 PM (Answer #3)

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It is a tough time for teachers out there right now. There are many teachers who are losing their jobs and it will be very difficult to find new ones. The state of Illinois is expecting to cut 17,000-20,000 teaching jobs. Wow! I am concerned about where they will to find work. It will obviously be hard for them to find other teaching jobs because so many will be looking. I am grateful that I am safe in the district I work for and they haven't talked about salary cuts so thank God!

I think one thing that teachers can do is stick together.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 15, 2010 at 10:54 PM (Answer #4)

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This year was tough, next year will be tougher.  As federal block grants to fill in budget holes expire, Washington State is facing a combination of tax increases and budget cuts to meet another $2.1 billion state shortfall.  K-12 and higher education are going to have to eat $700 million of the cuts for 2010-2011.

We earn every penny of our salaries.  If they cut our pay, I guess I'm just going to have to stop working 60 hour weeks.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 16, 2010 at 12:16 PM (Answer #5)

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How many of you have stated something similar to this, "Teachers don’t go into it for the money?" We do the job because we love what we do right, but don’t dare try and figure out what a teacher’s hourly wage amounts too. Yet public education--including teacher salaries are taking enormous hits due to budget cuts. And for the record why shouldn’t teachers be able to go into the teaching profession and expect a adequate wage?

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booksnmore | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 16, 2010 at 1:53 PM (Answer #6)

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We garden as well. Also pick local produce in season to can and freeze. We do enough of our own food preservation that we have little produce to buy during much of the year. We have raised beds that produce late and early crops of spinach. (Been eating spinach salads about once a week for the past month.) We try to eat in season as much as possible. Garage sales. Used clothing stores. I keep book lists of specific titles I'm looking for and try to scope out library sales. Basically, if we can find it used, we try there first.

I do some consulting and can say that I see schools suffering pretty much everywhere. It's really sad when it comes down to teachers or getting updated curriculum (that will actually meet the standards.)

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 17, 2010 at 10:38 AM (Answer #7)

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In terms of things that can be done, enotes is becoming more and more needed and something that so many teachers can have an active intellectual and economic voice present.  Tutoring has become another avenue that many teachers in our district pursue.  I think that being able to utilize the summer as a time when people pursue work, as opposed to simply not doing much in way of work, might be something that has to be pursued.  I think that all schools are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn and I can only hope that staff reductions and reductions in salaries would be venues that are protected from this trying time.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:53 PM (Answer #8)

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I haven't had my salary cut since I teach overseas and I work for places that see what I do as a premium. Faced with budget cuts, I would look to expanding my skills and position myself to be considered a necessary and vital part of any organization.

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drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted April 18, 2010 at 5:42 PM (Answer #9)

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I voluntarily cut my own salary last year by taking a buyout from my company and launching my own business. By being able to deduct the expenses of starting a new business, plus the ARRA credits, I am getting the biggest tax refund I've ever received. That's helpful.

I have gone in with two of my friends and we have a garden together. Last year, we canned over 100 quarts of tomatoes and almost that many green beans. I froze okra, corn, and squash. I also picked blackberries during the summer with my son and made several jars of preserves. For Christmas, I gave little baskets (from the Dollar Tree) with homemade preserves, little mini-loaves of bread, and pecans from my mom's grove. She gave me several dozen zip-lock bags of shelled pecans for my birthday.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 19, 2010 at 8:24 AM (Answer #10)

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ALL teachers on the high school level are considered necessary and vital, but unfortunately, when faced with budget cuts, it is the elective teachers who face losing their jobs moreso than core content teachers.  Music programs, Drama, Art, etc. are the first to lose funding and be cut to save money.  I hate that since students need a well-rounded education and because many of these programs are the reasons why they come to school in the first place--a creative outlet and avenue for self-expression.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 21, 2010 at 5:31 PM (Answer #11)

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I pulled a preemptive strike last year: I got out of public school education the year before the budget cuts; otherwise, I would have been riffed this year for sure.

I am teaching at a public/private health sciences technology charter-type school.  I teach public school kids, but I work for a private company who is hired by the school board.  I have a public school job, but I took a 20% pay cut to come here.  I don't get a pension, and I don't belong to a union.

Our program may not survive the budget cuts, but I feel that I can focus on teaching more now.  There's simply no drama at this school.  I don't have to worry about so much of the politics of uber-public education.  No more school board drama.  Plus, I'm teaching inner-city kids who are really grateful.

To me, I'd rather be really happy than fully compensated.

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lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted April 22, 2010 at 5:03 AM (Answer #12)

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I teach at the college level full time for one school, adjunct for two others on-line, and as a visiting ffaculty at a third AND I do as much on-line writing as I can and I still feel as though I am barely getting by. The big kicker came when I discovered that, according to the IRS, I had not paid enough taxes so I owed MORE this year. I said to myself, how can this be? I have no money in the bank, I drive a 12 year old car, I live with three roommates, I don't go out or go on vacations, and I still owe them money!

I think the problem is two-fold. For one, we don't value educators enough as a society. I teach in a college that is known for its medical programs and many of my students leave here with only a BS or in some cases an AS and they make more to start than we do as the faculty who taught them! There is clearly a disparity in that situation.

The second issue is taxes. We have more tax cuts for the poor (who clearly need them, but the definition of poverty and what constitutes the poverty level is not representative of actuality) and for the super-wealthy who, in my opinion, do not need them, However, we live in a capitalist society, a culture in which, with all of the recent foreclosures, there are three vacant houses for every one homeless person living on the streets on an average night. It is a disparity that we have created through greed, and it will continue until there is a major shift in attitudes and values.

Until then, I will just keep on working!

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geosc | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted April 22, 2010 at 5:34 AM (Answer #13)

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Budget cuts in education: Post 12 scares me.

Our government does not, and does not permit employers to, force teachers to work for a certain remuneration.  Nor are employers able to enslave teachers.  Employers pay teachers what they have to pay in order to get the teachers to willingly work for them.  They cannot pay less, and they should not be forced to pay more.  Our teachers work for the salary they receive because they prefer their job to others, or because employers in other fields do not rate their qualifications for those other fields high enough to hire them.  There is no force involved.

Depending on major shifts in attitudes and values smacks of ideology.  Better to depend on a reduction in taxes.  Yes, every person who benefits from the civilized society that government facilitates, owes taxes to his government, but few of us owe as much as most governments are charging today.  Greed is a constant value; it isn't changed by major social engineering; it is guarded against, and confined, and thwarted by wise laws.  We have a lot of laws that are not so wise, and we severely compromise the effectiveness of a lot of our wise laws by silly, sick, sentimentality.

Tax cuts are good if they are accompanied by budget cuts, and Lord knows we need some budget cuts.  Tax cuts without budget cuts just mean taxes will be greater next year or next decade, or next generation, or next presidential administration.

A friend of mine, now retired from the governmental school system, remarked a few years before she retired: "They just spend all their time down there in Raleigh trying to dream up new social problems for the public schools to cure."  That comment has stuck with me for all these years.  And it shows the need for budget cuts; the ability to use the government schools for such social engineering is an unnecessary and evil luxury resulting from having too easy an access to the taxpayer's pockets.

In my own county, the school system is nearing completion of a multi-year project to consolidate all of the schools into a few large schools.  A reason I have heard is that it permits the use of technology and better lab facilities, etc.  Yet, if I remember nothing else from my graduate studies in education, it is that comparisons of effectiveness of education with and education without technology have shown very little difference and the little difference that they have shown is on the side of education without technology is more effective.  Their real reason likely has more to do with having access to the taxpayers' pockets, so let's build new schools.  Not "We need new schools," but "we have money to spend."  And also, this country grew great under the guidance of and by the work of people who graduated from one-room school houses; and this country has long been declining under the guidance of people who graduated from large, consolidated, govermental schools.

And tax cuts for the wealthy: If you are in higher education you better be down on your knees praying for them, because even in state universities, philanthropic contributions from the wealthy and the nearly wealthy comprise a very large and significant portion of the budget.

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anthonda49 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted April 24, 2010 at 2:38 PM (Answer #14)

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My state mandated teacher furloughs, three per semester. In Georgia, the counties pay a supplement to our salaries. Coweta County managed to be frugal enough with expenses, that they cancelled the furloughs for second semester and paid the teachers what the state would be cutting. Being frugal is not fun, but in education, a lot of money is wasted on copy paper, paying for frills, and buying into "new" programs. Showing students how to save money and waste less is effective. My students learned to use a whole piece of paper until it screamed for mercy! No more cross out a line or two, then throw out the paper. It also cut down on the amount of trash and borrowing. The same worked with pencils. Little ways to save money add up to maintaining what we have in spite of a tough economy.

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 27, 2010 at 9:56 AM (Answer #15)

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As educators, we often spend as much time, if not more,  with our students than their parents do. So it always amazes me that teachers have to worry about whether they will have a job or being pressured to retire before they want to. This is happening all over my state as it is in so many other states. The education of our children is the most important job in our country, yet we are always the ones who get hit the hardest when politicians get us in trouble. Positions are cut, and class sizes go up. Then teachers attempt to teach a class of thirty or larger and get through to each of them. Until politicians and others who control the money of our country and states understand how important and necessary our job is as educators, we will always be hit like this when times are tough. In one school district, there is a tremendous shortfall because someone in the financial office couldn't add and subtract. They thought they had more money than they actually did. Now, they are laying off teachers and increasing class sizes, but no one in the financial office is losing his/her job.

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dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted May 30, 2010 at 10:46 AM (Answer #16)

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OMG !!! You have opened up a huge can of worms. At my institution new cuts are seemingly coming out daily. This is true even though we are experiencing record enrollments. We have so many students that we have no where to put them. I attend meetings about every two weeks that are utterly depressing. Now, we are laying off ancillary staff and the like but... we are also building large, new, elegant offices and classrooms. Where is that money coming from? I understand the budget process, budgets are MAN made. I hear all the time"it's not in the budget", O.K.then, well why can't we rewrite it ???!!! Remember all the new student's? Do you think we are hiring new teachers to teach these kids? No, we are not. I'm not sure who they think is going to teach them. Every teacher I know is way overburdened and with NO additional pay!!! We are told that we should be grateful to have a job, and I am but come on.

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angelcann | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 1, 2010 at 9:36 AM (Answer #17)

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We're in the same boat here. We've experienced record growth and we've got swank new buildings being planned, but we're making cuts left and right. As the largest department on our campus, the English department was the first to experience some of these cuts. We've been prohibited from making copies of anything, including the syllabus or assigments, for the past two years, and many of our instructors were forced into computer classrooms so we would have no excuse to not put everything on the web for student access. Our dean has decided that this worked so well for English that the other disciplines should have to do the same.

 

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susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted June 2, 2010 at 10:32 AM (Answer #18)

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My county is also experiencing budget cuts.  Our salaries have been frozen. Last year, we had three furlough days, and next year we are expected to have more.  This year we have had massive job cuts as well.  Class sizes will go up because Georgia no longer caps them, letting class size be determined on the local level.  We are still top heavy in administrative positions, and I see quite a bit of waste and duplication that might be looked at before cutting salaries or teaching positions.

To maintain my current standard of living, I teach summer school and I grade essays for standardized tests.  (And, of course, there's enotes.)

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joe30pl | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 2, 2010 at 11:26 AM (Answer #19)

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Yeah, things are not good down here. For #18, how does one go about grading essays for tests?

It seems we have problems all over, and I'm sure when it will end. I've never understood why education is always the first thing that cuts, and I doubt there is any rational explanation now. Heck, I lost my office and no one is sure where to put me. I just tell my students my office is where ever I happen to be sitting at any given moment.

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angelcann | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:36 PM (Answer #20)

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joe30pl: Wow, no office? I've had to share offices before, but the schools I've taught at have always found a place for me.

susan3smith: I'm like you as far as the teaching load. I teach seven classes per semester, teach Maymester, Wintermester, and two classes each summer session. I haven't looked into grading standardized test essays, but I know some of my colleagues are doing that too. At my school, we still have course caps in theory, but the dean constantly raises them without any warning or discussion.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 26, 2010 at 2:35 PM (Answer #21)

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It seems to be more of the worst of times than the best of times, doesn't it! Sadly, I do think that cuts are going to hit teachers hard which means that I am going to be exploring other ways of supplementing my income through using enotes more or marking exams etc. Private tutoring is also a possibility though I am reluctant to add to my teaching load.

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