The recent story regarding school budget cuts (Herald, April 3) leads the reader to believe that these cuts were relatively insignificant. I would submit that this is not the case, particularly when considering the cumulative effect of educational cuts to area students over the past several years.
To begin with, gifted educators have now largely been eliminated. These full-time teachers were available to identify gifted students, provide personalized instruction, support teachers in enriching their curriculum and advocate for the learning needs of gifted-and-talented students districtwide. GT facilitators are no longer available at DHS, Miller Middle, Escalante and Riverview, with now greatly reduced positions at other schools.
These cuts, combined with the very significant changes made to special-education programming last year, call into question the district’s ability to respond adequately to students with unique learning needs. Electives (or exploratories) have also been dramatically affected during the last several years, with different reduction/elimination decisions being made at various schools. Languages have been affected, with French and German classes cut. Cooking and sewing classes no longer are offered. Wood shop classes have been cut or significantly reduced. PE courses, such as rock climbing and yoga, are no longer available – these particular cuts have primarily affected middle-schoolers. Advanced language arts, advanced math, leadership classes, yearbook, applied technology, jazz band, engineering courses and drama classes have been affected at various schools.
Exploratory courses help capture and build student interest and more fully engage students. Their elimination/reduction diminishes our students’ educational experiences. Many field trips that offered tremendously rich educational experiences are no longer possible.
These changes have built upon one another for many years, with many parents not even aware that current budget cuts only continue to eat away at what was already considered to be “bare bones” programming only a few years ago. More energy needs to be devoted to raising funds and working as hard as possible in this difficult economy to find ways to re-establish programming that has been lost during the last decade, the cumulative effect of which is enormously significant.