The Danger of Budget Cuts
It’s time to talk rationally about the budget cuts. As much as the district and the school try to squeeze savings out of an admittedly anemic budget in order to stave off cuts that hit classrooms, eventually the budget crisis is going to effect students. That’s if students aren’t beginning to feel the pinch already.
The issue is not with the district. The issue is not with the school (in fact, the adminstration, headed by the dogged and determined Principal Melissa Friez, has worked tirelessly over the past few months to make sure that the cuts imposed on the school don’t result in major layoffs or increased class sizes). The issue, that everyone at Allderdice and everyone in the United States should recognize, is the lack of public support for public education and government services.
The attack on public education, coordinated by the extreme right, threatens the American way of life. The “government is not the solution” mantra is a slap in the face of hard working public servants like public school teachers, university professors, police officers, and firefighters.
It is time for students, parents, public servants, and yes, the general public, to get on the side of those who do so much to uplift American society. Accepting sacrifices, like the higher taxes advocated the by the Occupy Wall Street movement, is no sacrifice at all when considering the great good that the government and schools do.
Right now it seems that the Pittsburgh Public Schools will be directly and heavily impacted by a loss of $34.1 million dollars in funding to the district’s proposed $540.9 million fiscal year 2011 budget. This money could have been spent on resources to further education, and the decrease in funding will inevitably result in the loss of both teachers and supplies for schools. The reason for these cuts is that the Pittsburgh Public Schools has a projected deficit of $53.6 million dollars in 2012 and $100 million in 2015. It is possible that the district will be able to find supplemental ways around it and that it won’t be entirely detrimental. On the other hand, even though it won’t cause a complete overhaul of the system, it has already encouraged some teachers into retirement and has resulted in fewer school supplies for teachers during the school year.
Whether we focus on the new regulations on how many ink cartridges teachers get per year, or simple loose leaf paper, it will slowly become more and more apparent that there is a lack of funding. This brings up the 21st century question that if students are using computers more and more to write essays, type up homework assignments and lab reports, etc., then why would the schools need so many paper products? The problem is that the majority of teachers still require that students turn in a hard copy even if a student decides to take the environmentally friendly route. As for ink cartridges for teachers, they will probably have to buy some independently at some point during the school year if they want to be able to use their printers, since as few as one per year will be paid for by the school. As you can see the loss of some of the simple things can be frustrating. Then again that won’t be the biggest problem, and can be overcome via reasonably easy solutions.
Probably the most detrimental downsizing both in the long term and the short term is the loss of teachers, administrators and counselors: an estimated 398 positions district wide will be eliminated. Superintendent Linda Lane’s grim statement set the tone for the cuts: “If the state passes the reductions in education funding as outlined by the Governor (on March 8), there is no doubt that Pittsburgh will face a myriad of difficult choices, including but not limited to, laying off teachers and staff, and closing more neighborhood schools.” We have already seen the closing and consolidation of schools, i.e. Reizenstein and Schenley. There have also been losses of counselors in schools across the district and some layoffs of teachers with the likelihood of more coming. Both the losses of workers and schools will cause the workers left to be overwhelmed and some classes to become overcrowded.
The Foreword hopes that you, the students, take all this into account and make sure that you pay attention to what’s happening to our school district. These are pressing matters that will directly affect your education. Talk to your teachers, write letters to Dr. Lane, and make sure to have your voice heard: these cuts are detrimental, and it’s important that the district keeps looking for other resolutions.