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Members of the FHEA Discuss Their Perspective on the Budget Cuts

Published: March 30, 2021

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Budget cuts: a phrase that has been echoed across the Francis Howell School District for many weeks now. Many have been left wondering what this means for the district and all of the teachers, students and other staff. One perspective of these cuts is that of the teacher, more specifically the FHEA, or the teachers’ union

“The opinions vary from person to person,” FHN Spanish teacher Anelise Mossinghoff said. “People who are brand new teachers to the district of course are worried about their jobs. People who have been around a long time are concerned because we want this district to be a district that people want to come to.”

The FHEA is an organization of teachers that advocate for teachers. They advocate in the interest of a well-functioning education system. So as one might imagine, a cut to the budget that affects these teachers directly is not taken lightly. While it seems like there aren’t many teachers being cut, any cuts are still going to have an effect on the teachers.

“We potentially are losing some really good teachers that we hired,” FHN Science Teacher Donna Malkmus said. “Now we don’t get to keep them.”

With cuts like these, money has to be reallocated in order to fill the needs of other things and with teachers salaries and benefits receiving 80% of the yearly budget, that is a prime place to move money from. While there are several things that the cuts are going to affect, there are a few things that will be affected more than others. According to Malkmus, a couple of things that are going to be affected the most are class sizes and the teacher’s budgets. That being said, class sizes aren’t set to increase as drastically as many teachers are worried. The average general education class size currently is about 23.5 students. The new average is going to be closer to 24.5 students.

“I have to cut back on what things I am going to do and what kinds of things I am going to have to get rid of,” Malkmus said. “I really worry the most about having a science class. Having 32 kids in here is very scary because, how do I ensure safety with 32 kids with them using bunsen burners all at the same time.”

Another thing to take into account is the teacher workload and their classroom sizes. While class sizes are going to increase, teacher numbers are going to decrease which inevitably leads to a larger class population which can put a lot of stress on teachers. According to Malkmus, members of the FHEA have been speaking at board meetings to try and get them to look elsewhere to cut money from. It is unlikely a situation occurs where teachers don’t get cut.

“The job is still the job and so it just means that fewer people are going to do it,” Mossinghoff said. “People who are already overextended are going to have to find a way to extend more and I don’t know that that’s possible because I think most of us are at our breaking point. This has been such a trying year and it is really unfortunate that this has happened this year.”

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