Personnel Cuts Leave Community Upset

Personnel Cuts Leave Community Upset

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Kevin Walor speaks to the school committee about the personnel cuts

by Veronica Hayward-Mildish

The Hudson Public Schools cut 23 teachers on April 6 – five positions at Hudson High School, 12 at Quinn, four at Farley, and two at Mulready. Four positions are being added at Quinn, four at Farley, and one at Mulready. There are one vacancy and one retirement at Hudson High School. This means the total amount of teacher cuts is 14.

“The reduction in personnel is a result of the decline in student enrollment,” says Superintendent Marco Rodriguez.

In 2018 about 11% of the district’s school population was lost to other schools, with 7.1% going to Assabet and 3.4% going to AMSA.

There will be a decrease of 108 students within the district next year. Fifty-seven students going into 9th grade will leave to attend Assabet and 33 going into 6th grade will leave to attend AMSA. The other students impacting the decrease are those graduating this year or joining the district next year.

“Students and families will always have choices,” says Rodriguez. “The plan is to create additional exciting and engaging opportunities for students, grades K – 12.”

At Quinn instead of three teams in each grade, there will be two. The Flex block at the beginning of each day will be replaced by a period of additional related arts classes. The four new positions being added at Quinn are a literacy teacher, a numeracy teacher, a STEM teacher and a humanities teacher.

Many students and people in the community aren’t thrilled with the changes Rodriguez has made.

At the school committee meeting on April 10, 12 community members spoke, five students and seven adults. On April 24, 6 community members spoke, two students and four adults.

Community members spoke about how they feel the committee didn’t approach the personnel cuts properly. At meetings, many spoke about how they don’t feel it is fair to have the cuts to teachers, but not administration. Others spoke about how they aren’t satisfied with the responses Rodriguez and other school committee members have given to their questions.

The father of sophomore George Sachs-Walor spoke at one of the school committee meetings and at the Budget Forum on May 1.

“I felt it was necessary for me to get out there, in front of the school committee,” says Kevin Walor. “I’m very passionate about education, and as a parent, I want the proper education for the children of our community.” 

He feels that there is a lack of communication between the school committee and the community, making it unreasonable for them to make such drastic measures without any warning.

Celina Chaves is one of the students that spoke at the school committee meeting and the budget forum. She set up a petition to show support for the teachers. It got over 250 signatures on the paper version and 243 signatures online.

“When I learned Mr. McCardle was going to be one of the teachers to be cut, it was so infuriating and so upsetting to me,” says Chaves. “He was a big part in everyone’s life, and I started the petition.”

Rodriguez has not released the names of the teachers who are being cut to the public, yet some teachers have informed their students.

As a reaction to the cuts students have also made an Instagram account, saveourteachershhs, that has 237 followers. Dates for town meetings and students thoughts and concerns about the changes are posted.

This account has generated controversial responses, as some students believe that the cuts will keep the schools funded. What is not clear is the purpose of the cuts.

There are no savings associated with the reduction in personnel,” says Rodriguez. “We are engaged in an ongoing process of reducing the revenue gap by identifying expenditures other than personnel to balance the budget.”

Since the beginning of the year, Rodriguez has already been able to reduce the 2.5 million dollar deficit to $549,192.

The actual budget cuts will help fund those in the “High Needs Category.” This includes those who are English language learners, economically disadvantaged or those who have disabilities.

“For the past few years, there has been a growing need to support students beyond the academic areas,” says Rodriguez. “Social/emotional learning has been an area of concern as so many students struggle academically due to other personal or health factors.”

The budgeting to help this will come into effect in the future if everything goes as planned.

The community is unsure when or whether the protests will stop.

At the budget forum on May 1, Rodriguez and many others on the school committee provided answers and information to questions, concerns, and misconceptions people within the community had.

“(I am) completely unsatisfied,” says Walor. “In their responses, they did not consider many things.”

These things that Walor is talking about include the housing market, that he feels will not benefit from the changes to the schools. As he has explained, when families are looking for houses and towns to live in, a big factor is a good school system. He feels that the situation with the school committee will hurt the schools’ appeal drastically.

At the budget forum, Walor said that the news of the personnel cuts has already spread to other towns.

People in the community attended the Town Meeting on Monday, May 7 to downvote the budget in hopes that this will help keep the teachers. The current budget passed, making it implausible that anything will change in regards to the personnel cuts.

“Teachers are our biggest asset at school,” says Chaves. “Any teacher losing their job is just a horrible circumstance.” 

 

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