Dear City Councilors,
I am a 4th grade teacher in the NBPS system, a resident and home owner in New Bedford, thus a taxpayer and voter. I am a product of New Bedford Public Schools as is my husband. My 2 children have been educated in New Bedford Public Schools and both graduated from NBHS with highest honors, one in 2008 and one this year, 2013, with a class rank of 12. My eldest has graduated from college with a Forensic Science degree and is currently in graduate school and my youngest is off to college in the fall with 8 credits from Rhode Island College Early Enrollment Program. She has earned a score of 4 on 2 Advance Placement tests (Biology and Statistics) in her junior year which will transfer as credit or exemption from prerequisite classes and she is waiting for results of 2 more AP tests (Physics and Chemistry) from this year. She could have potentially earned 20 credits before she begins college and this all happened because of our School District and New Bedford High School.
Both my children took advantage of everything our school district offers. They both started out at Campbell Elementary and in fourth grade entered Advanced Learning classes. One attended Gomes, the other attended Carney Academy. From Gomes, my daughter went to Roosevelt Middle School as the first class of 6th graders and my other went to Normandin. They both had computer classes in school. Eldest in grades 4-8, youngest only in middle school because of cuts and curriculum changes because we had to raise MCAS test scores. They both played instruments from 4th-8th grade. The oldest went through the budget cuts of music, but continued to play in middle school thanks to an instrument teacher who volunteered her time after school. My oldest played sports in middle school, but my youngest wasn’t afforded that same opportunity. They both did play sports in high school all 4 years and my oldest is a proud member of the track team that won the 2007 MIAA Girls Indoor Track and Field Championship and was a high school All-American for which she was recognized by your council. (Incidentally there is still no championship banner in the NBHS gymnasium, but I assume there is no money for that.
Our school system is in crisis, there is no question of that. But taking away $4 million dollars is not going to help, it will be crippling. If you are trying to teach the mayor and the school committee a lesson, the ones that will be affected are my students. The students don’t need to be taught a lesson. I teach their lessons in class. There are already layoffs and I have colleagues and friends that will lose jobs. My daughter told me one of her AP teachers might get cut. He just taught the brightest students at NBHS and might not have a job next year? That’s our thank you for a job well done!
Currently my 4th grade students have Art every other week for 45 minutes, have Music every other week for 30 minutes and Phys. Ed. every other week for 45 minutes. Taking lunch and 1:00 dismissal on Fridays into consideration, my students receive 2 hours of specialist time in 55 ½ hours in 2 weeks. Oh, and that is my only planning time along with the 3 hours of 2 Friday early dismissals which makes 5 hours for 2 weeks. Your cuts will take that away. I have to teach Reading, Language, Math, Science and Social Studies as well as good manners and respect.
Some of my students are afforded instrumental lessons and chorus. Your cuts will take that away.
We have a computer lab, but I have to take my students there…maybe for research or an activity, but we have no computer class. I have to cover lunch duty because we don’t have enough para-professionals for that.
I have bought my own copy paper in the past. I take and pay for graduate school classes so I can stay certified. We can put in for course reimbursement, but it is only a fraction of the tuition. This current year I bought my students folders, notebooks, crayons, pencils, pencil boxes and erasers. (I currently have 25 students, but have had as many as 27 and as little of 24 this year. Students are very transient.) I have bought prizes for a prize box. I have bought a butterfly kit so my students could watch first-hand the life cycle of the butterfly. I have bought materials for science projects. I have bought paper towels and tissues every week for 39 weeks so far. Why? There is no money in our budget for that.
How much do you spend out of pocket for your job? Not what I do, I can assure you.Next year will be worse than this current year. Class sizes will be bigger, no Art, Music or Phys. Ed. or cut to every 3 weeks. I will have to buy more school supplies for more students and do more with less. The problems are at the top, not the teachers and students who will be affected. We have bought out the contracts of the last 2 superintendents. That money would have helped! But I have no say in any of that. My students already don’t have it as good as my children did, but I am doing the best with what I have got.
Please reconsider the $4 million cut. We need that money for the kids, not the administration!
Joanne M. Medeiros