Posted by: kstridegoudie | April 24, 2012

REFLECTIONS … BUDGET CHALLENGES … CLASS RECONFIGURATION

It was an exciting couple of weeks at the beginning of September … everyone was excited to be back in school … and excited about … change.  We were off to a GREAT start!  WOO HOO !

Then it happened … a budget review revealed a budget nightmare … we were in debt almost — $150,000 … YIKES ! How did we get here … and how do we get out of it? We had lower student enrolment, transfer out of high needs students etc …

I went to Division Office for a number of meetings with Claire, Kelly and Tim.  I remember Tim asking me to take a close look at my budget, see where I could make cuts and come back and meet with them again.  I wanted a ball-park figure, as it seemed so open-ended to me.  However, I can also understand the purpose of the broad challenge that was presented to me.

I sit here now … and I am so grateful for Claire … she sat with me and went through my budget – line upon line.  She was also challenged with the numbers as she believed it was already a lean budget. I remember going home that weekend and working on various scenarios, determined to find a way to address the financial deficit facing our school community.

It was decided to reconfigure classes at the grade 8 and 9 levels, and create a combined grade 8/9 class. Part of the reconfiguration meant reassigning Travis from Grade 9 to Grade 5.  He was such a trooper, as he hadn`t taught Grade 5 before, but was open to doing whatever we needed to do to make it work for the school as a whole.  I was grateful for his flexibility !

It was difficult to share the news with the grade nine students as it was obvious Travis had already formed a bond with them and they were really enjoying him as their teacher.  I heard from grade 9 parents that they were not happy about this change.

However, the process proved to be very interesting.  Kelly sat with me and prepared a letter to the parents.  Travis and I had several meetings with teachers, created class lists and made lots of phone calls to parents.  In the end … we had a unique problem … we had more students than we needed wanting to be in the combined class.  I guess we all did a fantastic job of promoting the educational and social benefits of this class … interesting to say the least.

Then came one of the tough parts … having to sit with Katiana and explain that we were overstaffed at Muir Lake School and that we could not keep her position.  It was very difficult! However, I was overjoyed that we could offer her an equivalent position teaching Kindergarten at Blueberry.  This was truly a picture of the benefits of a systemic approach to staffing, and I appreciate Margaret`s role in our division.  It was one of those “bitter sweet moments“.  Katiana was clearly a person of resilience!

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