19 Aug Students to Feel Effects of Cuts (FL)

August 19, 2010

By: Colleen Wixon
Source: Press Journal - Indian River County Edition

Middle school will be a little different for Indian River County students, thanks to budget cuts.

Middle-school reading teachers were reduced, so advanced readers won’t get a reading class unless they ask for it as an elective. And middle-school athletes will play on clubs instead of teams, so there will be less traveling to other schools.

Students throughout the district might notice other changes — a reduction in money spent on extra-curricular activities and programs, a pay-to-play program for sports, and a reduction in the number of people to help them in the school media center or classroom as a special education teacher assistant.

District officials say they tried to keep the cuts out of the classroom by cutting administration salaries and cutting non-instructional staff positions in favor of keeping teachers and school programs, but students might be affected.

"Most of the cuts we made will impact students, directly or indirectly, but we were able to restore all teaching positions that were due to be cut, which is where we felt we could mitigate the impact to students most of all," Schools Superintendent Harry La Cava said in a prepared statement.

In anticipation of a decrease in state revenue and increase in expenses, about $9 million in district services and positions was cut from the district’s budget this summer. About 100 positions were cut in the district, including some media assistants, special education aides and health assistants.

The district is using about $3.3 million in federal stabilization money to pay for special education, elective, physical education, music and art teachers. The stabilization money ends this year.

District officials and school board members have said all positions go back for reconsideration during the 2010-2011 budget year. Just because a position is being paid for with stabilization money doesn’t mean it will be eliminated next year, officials have said.

Parents who are concerned their child’s education might be negatively affected by budget cuts should contact Florida legislators, La Cava said.

"We are doing the best we can with the cards we’ve been dealt," he said.

Because the economy also is causing families to tighten spending, many teachers are paring down supply lists for students. Beth Weatherstone, president of the Indian River County Education Association, said she asks students to bring basic supplies such as pencils and lined paper. She personally buys notebooks and folders for students in her classes.

"I do not request a binder due to the expense. I request parents purchase the cheapest they can find and do not require any particular type or color," she said.

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