The cuts stem from a budget reduction sent to schools by MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast and the Office of School Performance. According to Principal Darryl Williams, in addition to normal staffing re-allocations due to changes in student course registration, there will be reductions in supporting services rather than classroom positions.
According to Williams, the reductions include one full-time secretary, one full-time instructional support specialist and 1.4 ESOL teaching positions. Hours will also be cut from some positions; four hours will be cut for media assistant, four hours for ESOL para-educator, four hours for English composition assistant, six hours for staff development teacher, 3.5 hours for special education para-educator and four hours for vocational support teacher.
Blair's reductions were based on a potential budget reduction memo that Weast sent out to MCPS staff members on March 4. Weast said that although the budget had not been finalized yet, it was important for MCPS to prepare for the worst. "We must deal with the reality of the situation before us and provide staff and principals ample opportunity to make plans and adjustments," he wrote.
In response to the reductions, Williams plans on reorganization. "We will be revamping how we do business,” he said. "I may have to look at individuals' roles and responsibilities." Assistant Principal Edith Verdejo-Johnson also said that Blair was in a tough position and would have to adjust. "In general, we're being asked to do more with less."
The media center has been hit especially hard by staffing reductions in recent years. "We already had a huge staff cut from last year to this year," said media specialist Andrea Lamphier. She said that dealing with the new reduction of half a position out of only three positions will require reprioritizing and streamlining work. "We are a little stumped of how to cut back services," she said.
English resource teacher Vickie Adamson is concerned about the reduction in the staff development position because she feels that it is vital to the school. She believes that having additional support resources for teachers is what makes MCPS one of the best school systems in the nation. "If we start to dismantle that, then we will see a decrease [in the quality of the school system]," she said.
Williams said that the county had been anticipating such reductions for awhile. "The superintendent told us two years ago he sensed budget cuts," he said. Verdejo acknowledges that in the current economic climate, the cuts are inevitable. "We're in an economic crisis. We have to make hard decisions," she said.
But some of the staff feel that the decisions could have been made with more attention to what will affect students most. Adamson says she wishes the cuts did not have such an impact on classes directly. "I do believe that there is often bureaucratic fat that can be trimmed before classrooms," she said.
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