Despite protests and pleas from a packed room of teachers, students and parents, the Jordan Board of Education voted 4-1 Tuesday night to implement $4.3 million in budget cuts for fiscal 1988-89.
Such adjustments in the budget will eliminate 52 teaching positions in the district and increase the size of every classroom by an average of one student. Local support for the Gifted/Talented Program and 22 media coordinator jobs in elementary and high schools in the district will also be eliminated as part of the budget cuts that will affect 19 different areas.The majority of the audience at the meeting stood and applauded board vice-president Orr L. Hill, after he cast the only dissenting vote to the proposal.
However, all of the board members, including Hill, said the decision to make the budget cuts was painful, but something that had to be done. "It's with an aching heart that I have to vote for this because there's no alternative," said board president Maurine Jensen. "I can still hardly believe that we have to have these drastic cutbacks in a state that has a surplus," she said.
Jensen said she has been fighting an educational battle for years in the state. "I feel totally bruised and bloody," she said.
"The cut that increases class size . . . will push our children, as well as our teachers, beyond their limits," Mount Jordan Middle School teacher Dennis Budge told the board. "And this cycle will continue."
"We can no longer do more for less," said Michael Glen, vice president of the Jordan Education Association and a fifth-grade teacher.
An attendance roster included eight pages of names of people attending the meeting that asked for time to speak to the board. Most of the comments centered on increased burdens on the teachers, increased classroom size and the elimination of media-center coordinators.
Several also complained to the board about budget cuts in the special- education and the Gifted/Talented programs. Students in each class will have to be taught on one level and those who may learn quicker will become bored, said Pam Newman, a teacher in the Gifted/Talented program.
Newman said she sees bright children in large classrooms as having balls and chains attached to their brains. "Kids want a right to learn at their own rate," she said.
"Being put in an average classroom is like parking our brains," said Jennifer Nicholle, a student at Albion Middle School in Sandy, who participates in the program.
Other teachers at the meeting complained to the school board about district policies that give precedence to those with seniority when layoffs are made. "Let's get rid of the dead wood," said Leslie Conant, a teacher at Union Middle School. "Let's put superiority over seniority," said another teacher.
Board member Linda Neff admitted that the seniority system has "created a surrealistic nightmare." The policy of the board is bound by an agreement negotiated by the teacher's union, she said. "If you're really serious about superiority over seniority, talk to your teacher's organization."
Helen Pearson, whose husband is a school media coordinator who may lose his job, told the council she was at the meeting "to address man's inhumanity toward man, or the board's inhumanity toward teachers.
"You cannot hire aides to take the place of professionals," she said. Media aides will be hired at a lesser expense to replace media coordinators.
A student at Joel P. Jensen Middle School, Andrea Morris, read an essay she had previously written to state legislators concerning the importance of the media center in her school. She said the entire morale of the school is suffering because of the possibility of losing their media coordinator.
"Without a media coordinator, teachers will need to take on more responsibility," said Pat Rusk, a teacher at Oquirrh Elementary.
The increase in classroom size as a result of the budget cuts was another concern for many at the meeting. Claire Glade teaches 180 students at Bingham High and told the board of her concerns. "My classroom is very small and barely holds 36 students," she said. "If I get (more) as expected, this frightens me. I don't want students sitting on the floor."
Glade said she is also concerned about students "falling through the cracks" because of less personal attention, which results from larger class sizes. West Valley City Councilman Paul Henderson said his daughter's classroom at Welby Elementary has only 28 desks for 30 students. Students must rotate days without a desk, he said.
Another student, Amanda Wood-ard of Joel B. Jensen Middle School, seemed to sum up the questions most of the public was asking the board. She said, "If we (the students) are the future, why are they cutting the education funds?"