This cut was ordered by the Board of Education, although D’Agostino negotiated with the Board to cut 1.0 meaning 1 teacher or 5 sections (classes). This decision had to be made by the end of the semester with the final decision being made and known to staff the last Friday of the 2011 school year.
The main priorities of the Site Leadership Team going into the decision of making a cut of one teacher or five classes were “maintaining academic, athletic, and activities programs, maintaining full contracts, making sure people keep their jobs, keeping AP and Honors courses, and keeping CTE courses available to students.”
The decision of what to cut was a process of many SLT meetings, comprising of the teachers on campus led by Principal D’Agostino.
During the SLT meetings, staff members like Mrs. Daniels were thinking, “how can we make more cuts and demand more from staff?”
The reality was due to the stern schedule CMHS has in place now and has had for over five years. Many problems have resulted as well including “overstaffing” to the Newport- Mesa Board.
“The district wanted to cut 1.6 to 1.8 which would mean one teacher and six to eight classes. Teachers with a six/fifth contract get twenty percent more because they do twenty percent more, with the cuts more than 15 veteran teachers’ paychecks will be deducted by three to five thousand dollars monthly,” commented Daniels.
“This will increase work on teachers and increase availability of certain sections, but not classes. I do feel that admin has done a good job…keeping it a collaborative effort with the concerns of the staff and effect it will have on everyone on campus including students,” she added.
“The school and district philosophies as a site are illustrated by its goals, there shouldn’t be a discontinuity. The goals of the district and the school are never going to be in conflict, administration does support the goals of the school and the district.”
Daniels also explained how although administration may have to make difficult decisions and face trouble concerning schedule and teacher/ class cuts, they both do have the same goals of leading students to success and doing whatever that may entail.
”With EMA (Environmental Marine Academy) being considered a part of the changes, Mrs. Daniels and Mrs. Rasmussen are planning to make it an afterschool activity type program rather than a class offered within the daily schedule.
Mrs. Daniels said this about changing EMA. “If you put this into perspective, this is a savings about 42 to 97 thousand dollars annually, which in a district budget of about 13 million annually, is like pennies on the dollar and you are sacrificing much more including the negative impact cutting these classes will have in students being able to graduate high school and be adept to move on to college. If we were going to get rid of Mesa, we would have to send an email to those that provide us with the Scribes Grant and turn away 29 thousand dollars that was to be used for the program. With facts like that it is very unlikely that the EMA program will receive a complete 1.0 cut.”
“Changes in UC state requirements have allowed some programs to be recognized as fine arts and gave legitimacy to non A-G courses and CTE (Career Technical Engineering) courses, interdisciplinary courses which allow children to have credits as allowing them with an opportunity to get involved in good careers; a more holistic approach EMA is involved with. Colleges are starting to understand the importance of students such as these that can think independently and work with people which also has an impact on students,” said Daniels.
If any significant amount of cuts were to be made to ROP, CTE, Honors, or AP classes, the chances of CMHS students being able to graduate from high school and pursue good careers would be lower.
Throughout the multiple SLT meetings and open staff/open students meetings that were held, many concerns, opinions, and known priorities were discussed. All teachers and board leaders discussed their concerns.
Mrs. Uhl represented physical education, “if we reduce three sections it will impact 120 kids including a vast majority of seventh graders, about half of the seventh grade population. We all worked very hard to make sure seventh and eighth grade is separated because of the great difference in size and maturity level of the students. If this changed, they will be on a dual roster (meaning two same subject classes in the same period) and we will not give seventh graders to a high school class, the material they learn is completely different, the maturity level is obviously different, kids being displaced is huge!”
With ELD (Education Language Development) considered for sectional cuts, Mrs. Hartley commented “if an ELD coordinator position was to be cut, it would be like drawing a line and pretending it’s [program, along with students that depend on it] gone away.”
Mrs. Hayes, a High school language arts and business academy teacher, expressed her concerns, “Over fifty kids are enrolled in the dance class, and if this class were to be canceled, it would also affect students in AP world; leading to dual rosters.”
“These classes have a tremendous affect on the bottom third of kids, we could have more problems in class; these classes lead to more inspired, more discipline kids and well behaved students,” said Dr. Jerry Howell, a High school History teacher.
Mr. Ryan commented that he would love to have on-campus coaches hired, which was one of the many issues at hand with cuts of an employee or certain sections including P.E., but he “would hate to lose AP Chemistry so something else could happen.”
D’ Agostino remained concerned with the staff concerns instead of directly voicing his opinion, but did make sure to state that “we need to maintain a good holistic program including CTE, electives, and AP courses.”
"The decision is difficult to the fullest extent; in thirteen years we have never had to make a mid-year cut. When I think of program athletics, academics, and extra-curricular activities are all considered,” D’ Agostino added.
Teachers also volunteered to help with the potential problems the cuts could cause. For example, Mr. Ryan offeredto teach his AP Chemistry classes during lunch.
Mr. Schmidt, the High School Assistant Principal, also commented on behalf of being the one in charge of creating and putting into affect a master school schedule that “so far the schedule has seen ripples, eliminating classes and causing big waves and leading to hand-picked planning for seventh and eighth graders especially who only have an option of band and choir, which are both nearly at their max
Many priorities and concerns coinciding with the cuts were also brought up by SLT members in the past months.
“Actually believing that all students can be successful,” was the concern brought by Mrs. Rasmussen.
The importance of grades being updated on a regular basis was addressed by Mrs. Daniels and Mr. Piazza.
“Honor what other teachers do in their classrooms,” commented Mrs. Krenik, discussing the importance of all members of staff knowing what things others do in order to produce more success.
“Having a problem- solution mindset,” said Mr. Pannizzo mentioning how important it come up with a list of problems that need to be addressed and ultimately solve them all.
“Reminding ourselves [staff] of all the good things we are doing,” said Mr. Center, seconding Mrs. Krenik’s comment.
“Along with the concerns of the cuts, care needed to be taken towards tenure teachers, concerns of teachers, the trash around campus, and the care and attitude displayed towards fellow teachers, staff and students.
Dr. D’ Agostino along with Mr. Peralta and Mr. Schmidt, all stressed the importance and their goal to not have only one department or one teacher “take a hit.” He stated the cuts would “be made in the best interest of everyone.”
He also added, “I believe with time and support, all kids can learn.”