|Voice your budget concerns
There is a lot of discontent brewing as budgets are scrutinized and redefined for upcoming votes. Excessive spending, cost increases, cuts, salaries and benefits, contract negotiations and programs are all areas being considered as proposals are prepared.
Residents are asking why budgets continue to increase when enrollment is decreasing. Why are administrative costs rising while programs are being slashed for a student body that continually shrinks?
If anyone is unhappy with the salaries within your school district, address your boards and ask questions. Information that cannot be obtained verbally can be requested in writing, under the Freedom of Information Law. While specific employeesí information is not available for public perusal, information regarding positions is usually available. In many districts, this information is provided freely by administration.
Rather than attacking administration and the board, get involved. If you have questions, ask politely, donít accuse, donít let them fester. Approach your board members, your administrators, and ask for answers. First try to resolve your concerns peacefully.
There is a lot of concern that teachers and school administrators are overpaid, but consider the job they are entrusted with, the schooling that goes into achieving and maintaining that position, and the hours worked for their wages. Oftentimes, people not employed within a school system consider a teacherís job to be an 8 to 3 position, from September to June, with lots of holidays throughout the year. But all too often those teachers are in their classrooms way before 8 a.m. and stay later than the majority of their students. There are supplies to oversee and order (often out of their personal funds), the classroom to organize (stock, pack up and set up), lessons to grade and prepare, extra help offered, and different extracurricular activities where they serve as advisors or coaches.
Teachers often play the role of surrogate parent, nurse, therapist, mentor, tutor, cheerleader, liaison and disciplinarian. This is the adult whom your child spends more waking hours with than any other adult during the week. Donít you want this person to be as well educated, well trained, well situated and well adjusted as is possible? A teacher disgruntled with unsettled negotiations or unpleasant working conditions can not possibly serve as well as required in all of the capacities listed above.
Teachers are in their classrooms or in conferences when students have off. They are seeing parents, holding open houses, attending field trips outside of the 8 to 3 realm. Their summers often begin weeks after school end, and their summers end weeks before school starts. While many consider the teacherís yearly pay to be based on the short school year, many teachers opt to have that pay delivered throughout the summer. Those that do not receive a pay check over summer months, have to supplement their income. Many administrators work throughout the summer months. Training also leaves teachers saddled with student loans they are paying for years after they graduate. Bachelor degrees, master degrees, certification; all of this adds up.
So yes, at first glance becoming a teacher seems like a cushy job, and does provide the benefit of short work weeks and summers off, but there are also a lot of concessions made and a lot of responsibilities put upon teachers. Try spending eight hours a day, five days a week with 20 or more kids, without TV as a babysitter, with constant interaction and stimulating conversation and education a requirement. And admit it, most parents begin counting down the days till the first day of school before July is even over. Being a teacher is tough job, but someone has to do it. And most often, people who take up this profession do so because they love kids, with the perks and salaries being secondary.
So if you have concerns about the salary portion of the budget, continue to ask questions and continue to stay informed. A strong system can withstand scrutiny, and honest administrators will work with the public to ensure that everyoneís best interests are being considered.