Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hard decisions

Nothing about technology here. This is about something harder than learning ANY new program, harder than any teaching ANY thing.

Deciding on the school budget for next year - with less money (positions cost more, schools get the same as they did before). Net effect: what position will not be there next year?

Trying to talk openly and honestly. Trying to pretend that the two individuals whose jobs are on the line are not present in the room nor in on the discussion - right.

I somehow ended up trying to organize this horror - to give folks choices, to moderate the discussion, to facilitate making a decision. It was agony. We made a decision, and I feel terrible. I would have felt this way no matter what the decision was.

If anybody wonders why a teacher might not have the perkiest smile every minute of every day, well it's hard to explain, but there is a bunch of stuff we deal with that the public will just never know about. There will be a smile tomorrow in the classroom, but it will be a shallow one, with a deep sadness underneath.

I can only hope that when I end up in a meeting where my colleagues are deciding the worthiness of me compared to somebody else - that I conduct myself with the grace and dignity that a couple of my colleages did today.


Sarah said...

I'm sorry. It's awful.

Just awful.
I worked for my husband in a small district a couple years ago as a temp and I knew of course I would not be renewed, as I was on leave from another district and planning on returning, it was just a filling in thing. I was pink slipped as the board decided to do this, so it was "clear". Unnecessary, but it was so de-stablizing and hard on me and I knew I had the other job. But it was the way it was like losing a limb. I'm often a witness to these things . Very sad.

Chris Lehmann said...


The Philly schools are facing a $180 million shortfall next year. One year into SLA, and we're facing major issues around our budget as well. Our Home and School Association meeting is tonight, and we're trying to figure out how we can best weather this storm. I'm with you.

Bob Cotter said...

Our district is a small one, currently 3600 students, and declining in enrollment some 100 or so per year. Our schools are managed using a school based budget model and I have shared your experience. We are fortunate that our district office runs with a very tight staff and so 75% of the funds provided by the province (BC) goes to the schools. Still, the money's the money and when you don't have as much as you would like to run your school, difficult decisions have to be made.

Best of luck, Bob

Wesley Fryer said...

Why can't we as a public adequately fund education? This problem is affecting Oklahoma too, this last week one district abruptly fired 22 school support staff (who don't have the right to a hearing first) and it triggered a student walkout, more teachers are expected to be let go in that district. I don't know if more will follow suit. Our legislature passed an unfunded mandate last year (or at least a partially funded one) for teachers to get a $3000 pay raise. We have some of the lowest paid teachers in the nation here. I fail to understand how we as a public can consistently undervalue the educational experiences of our children.

I'm sorry to hear about all of this affecting you, Mark. The one positive thing I can say, from my own experiences changing jobs in the last year, is that when one door closes another can open-- and that door can lead to even better things than the person expected or hoped for. Without a closing door that open door wouldn't have even been considered. So I hope that is the case in the situation you're describing here.

If we didn't have to deal with so many people, our jobs would be so much easier! Some of our greatest hurts as well as happy moments come from working with people, it's just unfortunate I think as human beings we tend to feel and focus on the hurts sometimes more than the happy times.

Hang in there, my friend. A new sun is rising, and dawn will come to wash away the darkness. (I'm quoting Theoden there.)

Mark Ahlness said...

You know, it shouldn't bring such comfort to know that others are suffering through the same insanity. In my world's little drama I recently stared down the barrel of teaching a 3-4 split next year. I am counting my blessings to have dodged the bullet. Gotta be grateful for what we have. Thanks for the support, folks. Leaning forward - Mark