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I live and work in Winthrop, Massachusetts. We had to gouge $875,000 from
our budget. 34.5 teaching positions were cut last Thursday at the School
Committee meeting. That number amounts to more than 20% of our system-wide
teaching staff and does not reflect positions that will be left unfilled in
the new elementary school to be opened next year and retirements and leaves
of absence. When school opens in September, there will be NO SCHOOL
LIBRARIANS IN THE ENTIRE SYSTEM.

The voters in our Town defeated a Prop. 2 1/2 Override which would have
raised property taxes enough to keep us afloat by giving the Town
departments and the School department $850,000 each (Prop. 2 1/2 is a law
stating that taxes cannot rise by more than 2 1/2 % in any one year and must
be done with voter approval). Voter turnout at this critical time was around
20%. It is usually 30-40 %.

We are a seaside community of 21,000 people on a 2 square mile peninsula. We
have no large industries and a mere 8,000 residential property owners. Over
the years, we became heavily dependent on State aid and when that was
slashed by newly elected Governor Mitt Romney, we were in a crisis. Our
residents overwhelmingly voted for Romney and for a proposal to eliminate
the state income tax (roundly defeated statewide). Talk about biting the
hand that feeds you!

Now here's the part you won't believe. Our deficit would have been $975,000,
but the School Committee voted to use $100,000
from the reserve account of the ice skating rink that was accumulated to
replace the ailing floor and chiller. At that SC meeting dozens of people
showed up to speak. About eight were able to get to the mic in the time
alotted. Only one expressed outrage at what was happening to the schools.
The others were outraged at the possibility that the skating rink *might*
have to close and told the SC that they would be back with proposals to
privatize the rink, get corporate sponsorship, etc, etc, etc.

I have never been so disheartened by anything in my life.

If you live in a community whose members value education and support schools
be sure to thank them. Do not take them for granted. They are not found
everywhere and should be valued.

Thanks for "listening",

Rosemary McCarthy
Soon-To-Be X-Library Teacher
Winthrop High School
Winthrop, MA
rmccarthy@winthrop.k12.ma.us


-----Original Message-----
From: School Library Media & Network Communications
[mailto:LM_NET@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU]On Behalf Of Johanna Halbeisen
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2003 7:09 PM
To: LM_NET@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
Subject: GEN: have job back, but am exhausted!


Hello, my LM_NET friends!
        Last Wednesday I was told that the school committee had found
the money and my position will continue next year.  I spent an
exhausting couple of months mourning the loss of the collection I'd
built, the relationships, etc, and opening my eyes to all the
difficult and impossible parts of the job (and I'm not talking about
those that naturally go with being a school librarian in
Massachusetts, here I mean ways I've been treated by administration
this year and the way issues of racism, classism and homophobia are
routinely ignored there).  I had some exciting possibilities for new
jobs.  I was ready to change.  Now everyone expects me to cheer and
be very happy my job is secure for one more year (no promises beyond
that).   I will be quietly exploring the new possibilities, which may
be subject to hiring freeze.  And knowing that in any case, I have a
job in the fall.  But I'm still exhausted.
        I am told there are schools where the teachers are not
notified of cuts every year and then told there won't be any.  BTW,
the school committee dealt with the budget cuts by planning to not
hire replacements for four teachers who are retiring and by using all
the money in the reserve account.  A cliff hanger for sure.  I am
told that this has been the standard operating procedure for as long
as any of our teachers have been there.   I also heard of a principal
who refused to put her teachers through that kind of circus until the
final budget was known.  If I stay in Southwick, I'm sure this will
happen again.  Is this the way things go in small school districts?
People have said it is this way because we are so small with no
industry tax base, so budget cuts hit us hard.  Anyone else get this
kind of treatment?
        Thanks for all your support,
        Johanna
--
Johanna Halbeisen, Library Media Teacher
Woodland Elementary School (preK-4)
80 Powder Mill Rd,  Southwick, MA 01077
johanna.newsong@rcn.com

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