Recently, many students have been noticing an increase in class size, paired with a decrease in the amount of classes they have to choose from. These changes are the result of budget cuts from this past school year and the 2017-2018 school year , when the board decided to cut down on classes in order to save money for an increase in special education funding and a teacher salary increase. The board had to cut their budget by over $12 million this last May and agreed on a 3 year plan for teachers to reserve a 4% per year raise. This, in turn, made cuts necessary for the board to break even and teachers have begun to feel the consequences.
Mr. Bowls, a math teacher here at Washington, believes that the salary increase was not the best thing for the students or the teachers. He says that his class sizes have increased significantly, from 25-27 kids to almost 36-38 in his geometry classes. “Larger class sizes are harder to manage, it makes our life harder” he said. He said that the 4% raise is obviously a good thing for teachers but will have a more negative affect on students, as we are not getting the more individual help we need with almost 38 to a class. When asked about the salary he responded, “Salary should be more but you really have to think about what goes into that budget”. He expressed that the cuts were not a good idea for the students, as it rid them of a level of individuality with the teacher. When students begin to lose this right to individual teachings then our test scores may start to drop, which can result in the school score dropping as well. For math specifically, the department was not given much money to work with and classes were cut. Another teacher, Mrs. Jane Doe, who is Washington High School’s union representative and its fight for the pay increase about her thoughts on the recent budget cuts and salary increase. She spoke about the larger class sizes and how they seemed to make her life as a teacher much harder with less 1 on 1 time with students, more work and how she feels exhausted and limited in what she can do as a teacher. In regards to the salary increase and how it was acquired, she said, “The people who made the raise happen were union workers who bargained and who spent hours of their own time, uncompensated, to ensure that the raise would be given. It’s unfortunate that people believe that we didn’t do enough because we did as much as we possibly could and we still ended up getting a raise. The union relies on involvement from all members, and FUDTA continues to work with the district to secure our full cost of living raise without negatively impacting students.”
Departments other than math were affected just as much with class sizes increasing and decreased funding to some ROP classes, though the board did mention they would not be cutting funds for CTE classes like DECA. Some specific classes that were cut include one period of WHTV, one period of creative writing, and one period of ceramics. AVID is now 9-10 and 11-12 instead of one class per grade level. The next board meeting will be discussion over how to cut another $1.2 million from the budget.