Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Budget crisis demands critical response ... By Marlene Pollock

The recent news that the New Bedford school budget will have to be slashed, laying off 150 people, and drastically hurting the delivery of programs and services to our students, has cast a pall over the city. This news, coupled with the real possibility of increased class sizes, especially at the elementary schools, is causing great concern.

As I and other members of the School Committee/School Department have tried to grapple with the cuts proposed for the 2014 budget, we have looked at other savings that could mitigate these cuts — to no avail. The scale of the cuts — and the amount needed — $2 million — is too large. If we got that $2 million, we would need to prioritize those positions and services that directly impact student achievement.

For example, the Family Welcome Center should be open in July and August for parents to register their kindergartners, with four additional multilingual staff so students can be properly assessed. It has not been open in July for years, and due to the cuts, won't be open in August either. How can we know how many elementary teachers to hire if we can't get the information until school begins? How can we expect students to succeed if we don't have money for translation services, which are required by law?

At the public hearing, students in fine arts and their parents gave tearful testimony about how much these programs help them succeed in school. All of the fine arts have documented positive effects on brain development and student success in math and reading.

Four positions in the nursing staff should be added back in and there is a need for substitute nurses to supplement field trips and staffing.

In another example, the recently accredited Academy of Engineering can survive if the number of instructors can be maintained at three. This program has already demonstrated tremendous success for the past 11 years across the country — especially for students of color and female students.

The loss of 53 substitute paraprofessionals, those staff who work with students with special needs, are often the only folks who can speak to non-English- speaking students. Our ability as a district to ensure that special education students succeed in school is directly related to the number of paraprofessionals we have. We also need to seriously emphasize energy conservation and move completely from paper to online communication in many areas. These efforts can produce important savings in the future. But we need the money now!

Several City Councilors spoke in favor of adding money to the school budget at the June 6th meeting to prevent these draconian cuts and layoffs. Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan appropriated $1.6 million above minimal school spending to prevent the cutting of important programs and staff.

Our mayor, the School Committee and the City Council need to come together to add $2 million and save our schools! The city has the money in the Rainy Day Fund. If this isn't a rainy day, I don't know what is.


Anonymous said...

Marlene Pollock is one of the main reasons why nbps's is in a mess. She was to busy sucking up to the innovation queen and uia to pay attention to the budget.

Anonymous said...

The following is Marlene Pollock's reaction to the cuts at the High School. "I think this sets it right," she said. "You know that whole thing: crisis in Chinese is the same word as opportunity." I think it takes a crisis."

Anonymous said...

Pollock is a disease.

Anonymous said...

Her letter is another example of her lack of understanding. It's not a 150 people who will lose their jobs, it's 250. It's not a a $2 million deficit, its $4.8.

Anonymous said...

Question: Why aren't the Uia, Dutra and Fentress using their millions to support our schools?

Anonymous said...

Answer: Those fools are only interested in breaking down the school system.

Anonymous said...

Did Craig Dutra's wife get off on the drunk driving charge?

Anonymous said...

Guess Marlene doesn't read the S-T or retains what she read as the number of people being laid-off has been printed numerous times at 250 and the amount of the budget deficit is far greater than the $2 million. If she and her sidekick, Jack Livramento, are so concerned by the proposed FY14 budget, why didn't either of them attend the City Council budget hearing? Maybe the answer is that their innovation school is exempt from the process.

As far as the FY13 budget and the poor excuses she made regarding it, remember she along with 4 other members had worked on budgets for several years. She should pay attention to the entire district and not just her two pet projects--transportation and innovation schools.

Anonymous said...

Really? Marlene should stop trying to act like this situation must be solved by the City Council(she speaks like they caused it)...when they asked for proof that the money they gave for books went to books--what happened? WE ALL WANT ANSWERS! Marlene, why did you allow this sh*t to happen? Why weren't you innovative enough to expose and solve the problem? Did you attend the Global Gala? Why don't you ask your Global Gala friends to stop the destruction?