I am a middle school principal with 38 years in public education. My school is in a large district that serves 63,000 students. We have lost millions of dollars from our budgets, with the expectation of losing millions more. So far at our middle school, we have lost 10 teachers, one school resource officer, four teacher assistants, two custodians, one secretary, and one cafeteria worker, with more cuts to follow. All administrators have taken a pay cut and more pay cuts will be scheduled next year. Our student-to-teacher ratio has increased, as have offerings to students.
Our sub budget and supply budgets have been cut in half (we can’t even have mini fridges anymore). Teachers are reluctant to miss days due to colleagues having to fill in for them. All sports programs have been cut. All district programs such as the science fair and band/chorus concerts have been cut. There is no more textbook money and no more staff development, unless it is online or after school. The budget cuts have also affected our ability to conduct field trips.
We don’t take checks from parents anymore because we have lost $1,000 due to bad checks. Parents don’t pay for lost or damaged textbooks due to their financial situations. We have had to be more energy conservative; we can’t stay late since all computers are turned off by 9 p.m., and we can’t come in on weekends to work.
I have just described what is going our school this year—next year it should be worse. Legislators have said there is plenty of money, but that we just don’t use it correctly. Our state is in a $2 billion deficit and education and social services will share most of the loss.
Right now our state and district are in a tremendous financial crunch, I’d like to know how other schools and districts are faring. Leslie Potter is principal of Silver Sands Middle School in Port Orange, Florida