State budget cuts force school cuts

Due to the rising country deficit, the Texas state education budget has been cut down forcing the district to lower their budget as well.
At Rider, six positions were lost, though some of those faculty members were just shifted around.
There were three phases in the staff reduction process. Phase one was simply the removal of low-quality teachers.
“We didn’t have to lose any teachers [in phase one] because Rider has all high-quality teachers,” principal Judy McDonald said.
Phase two was about class sizes.
“The district says that all classes should be 10-15 people,” McDonald said. “Since we’re still scheduling, those numbers are not accurate.”
Phase three came down to saving money.
“Two positions had to be cut,” McDonald said. “They can be restored if the budget turns out to be nicer to education.”
To assist the district in reaching a solution to the budget crisis, a 26-member team was established. The Budget Action Committee met to discuss possible cuts to save money and submitted their report to the district. Among the possibilities were options from encouraging teachers to conserve electricity by turning the lights off more often to selling unused land.
Math teacher Stephanie Mullens is one of the members of the committee.
“I was happy to serve, but I knew it was going to be a tough job,” Mullens said. “It was heart-wrenching, we knew people were going to lose jobs.”
“26 people were chosen [for the committee],” Mullens said. “They tried to pick from all different areas: teachers, secretaries, maintenance, teachers.”
The committee was divided into five groups: curriculum and instruction, extracurricular, personnel, student support and support areas.
“My area was support areas,” Mullens said. “We looked at facilities, busing, utilities, etc.”
To help the committee with their recommendations, surveys were sent to faculty across the district.
“[They] could talk about their areas and what they wanted to keep or cut,” Mullens said.
While the committee was proposing the cuts, they had to divide them into priorities and whether they were long-term or short-term.
“You can’t not fix roofs, but it might be put off for a year or two,” Mullens said.
McDonald believes that the cuts at Rider are over with.
“The budget is balanced for this year, unless there is some increase,” McDonald said. “We are preparing for a worst case scenario.”
Since about 12 phase three positions have already been reinstated, Mullens believes, “it doesn’t look like a worst cast scenario.”
McDonald doesn’t think that the students of Rider will see a major difference next year.
“The biggest would be increased class sizes,” McDonald said. “[Also] not offering some electives and combining similar classes. We would still have the classes, but they wouldn’t be as specific as we previously offered.”
In Foreign Language department head and Spanish 2 teacher Ethan Shaw’s opinion, bigger class sizes can negatively affect students’ learning.
“I have a class with 36 kids and 26 desks,” Shaw said. “We can’t get desks and that’s this year. It will be interesting to see the seating arrangement.”
Though the Budget Action committee made the proposals, it is up to the Board what goes into effect.
“Everything was strictly recommendations,” Mullens said. “We had no power. All cuts come from the Board of Trustees, not Dr. Kazanas or Dr. Powers.”