Proposed Cuts to Cranston Schools

School Committee Member Steve Stycos provided the following summary of the proposed cuts in Cranston’s school budget:

FEBRUARY 1 BUDGET UPDATE FROM STEVE STYCOS

Cranston Superintendent Richard Scherza’s proposed school budget includes $1.8 million in personnel cuts. The list of positions includes six full-time teachers at Cranston East, two teachers at each of the three middle schools, plus five custodians, seven elementary school secretaries, seven other secretaries, all the school library secretaries and thirteen teacher aides.

I am most concerned with cuts in the high schools where class size is already much too large. Last year the school committee cut about 7 positions from the two high schools. Superintendent Catherine Ciarlo promised the cuts would have little impact, but in fact they damaged every Cranston high school student’s education. This year, East had 51 classes with 30 or more students and West had 81 classes. With the high school student population projected to decline by only 38 students next year, the proposed budget will drastically increase class size at East while doing nothing to improve it at West.

Wednesday night comments from high school parents and students dominated the school committee’s first budget hearing. They objected to high school subjects which have Advanced Placement and college preparatory levels but no honors level and decried large class sizes. Parents and their children also objected to the idea of eliminating tracking on the high school level.

My top priority in this budget will be to reverse at least some of the high school cuts. I will be working with other committee members to find cuts that will be less damaging to our children’s education. I am confident some of the positions can be restored, but do not yet have a specific proposal.

Parents and students need to attend the Monday February 5 school budget hearing at 7 PM at Western Hills Middle School. The school committee is scheduled to vote on the budget Monday February 12 at 7 PM at Western Hills. Both meetings will allow public comment at the beginning of the meeting. Public comments, letters and phone calls have a large impact. Next September when your child is in a Calculus class of 33 children (as my son is at East), it will be too late to complain.

In a memo provided to the school committee Wednesday night, Scherza lists the following positions to be eliminated at East; family and consumer science (8/10 teacher), technology (2 & 7/10 teacher), business (6/10), art (2/10), literacy (7/10) and special education (2). An English as a Second Language teacher would be added for a net reduction of six positions. While your child may not take many of these subjects, the students displaced from those classes are certain to land in at least one of your child’s classes, increasing class size. No positions would be cut at West, although Scherza wants to cut full-time business and science teachers and replace them with full time English and math teachers.

At Western Hills, technology (8/10), family and consumer science (4/10), world language (6/10) and special education teachers (1) would be cut. At Bain technology (8/10), family and consumer science (6/10), world language (6/10) and art (1/10) teachers would be cut and at Park View Technology (6/10), family and consumer science (6/10) and world language (1) teachers would be cut. In addition, a full-time Park View music teacher would be replaced with a full time English as a Second Language teacher.

I asked the administration to detail their reasons for the cuts. Assistant Superintendent Peter Nero said a decline in special education students led to the reduction in those positions at East and Western Hills. The other positions have not been explained.

Please try to attend either Monday February 5 or Monday February 12.

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2 thoughts on “Proposed Cuts to Cranston Schools

  1. Kiersten:

    To me, it’s not surprising you didn’t get an answer justifying the cuts. School districts, almost without exception, cut these programs first because a.) they’re not that popular and b.) they’re not highly regarded like the “core” subjects. Not to mention that family and consumer science and art are handled as electives and typically require lots of supplies. I wouldn’t be surprised if world languages is seen as a luxury in the middle schools — save French for high school.

    I wish you luck in organizing and bringing out parents to the meetings. Unfortunately, these decisions are as good as made, and it’s unlikely that an appeal by even 200 parents would change them.

    Sorry for the bummer of a response, but I’ve watched school committees do this time after time — first it’s elective courses, then it’s closing schools and cutting sports, then in April, out of nowhere, another $1 million comes down from the state or the school district “finds” it somewhere — most likely in medical savings.

    Honestly, I don’t see why districts couldn’t combine their health care budgets and deal with Blue Cross for more affordable care. Maybe they like to give people bad news all the time.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Jesse. It is Steve Stycos who is trying to get answers about the cutting of other teaching jobs. Hopefully we will come up with the money to restore these cuts.

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