Sitting in the multipurpose room of Little Egg Harbor’s Frog Pond Elementary School in NJ, on May 12, 2011, brought concern to many parents as well as staff members. As much relief was brought by the passing of the budget on April 27, 2011, the community was all too shocked to hear, during the Board of Education meeting, that more teachers would be cut.
The district will lose a librarian from each of the two elementary schools, George J. Mitchell and Frog Pond Elementary. Many people question what will happen to the library skills of students without a librarian. The librarian from the Frog Pond Elementary School stood in front of the board to express how she felt about her position being eliminated. She verbally educated those who attended the board meeting of the history of Library being integrated in school systems, and how it quickly expanded to a much needed source for students and teachers. The librarian then went on to discuss all the responsibilities of her position, for example: book circulation, book ordering, teaching children research skills, aiding teachers with needed resources, library and technology maintenance and of course, many other responsibilities that students and staff rely on.
The district embraced the “100 Book Challenge” through the American Reading Company, which encourages students to read thirty minutes at school and thirty minutes at home. The goal is to have students reading at or above their recommended reading level. It is the hope of many that this program will keep thriving without a librarian in the school.
In addition to the loss of librarians, two physical education teaching positions were eliminated from the elementary schools. What does this mean? The already large number of children participating in physical education in the gym will only get larger for teachers. A physical education teacher, whom is losing her position, stated at the board meeting that safety of the children is a primary concern during gym class. With less staff to supervise the students, the liability factor rises.
Many parents are expressing concern over teachers having to take on a larger work load with more teaching responsibility. Teachers will be required to pick up what eliminated staff will not be present to teach. Will teachers get burned out? Will teachers have enough time during the school day to fulfill teaching and learning objectives? These are the questions many parents are asking.
These district cuts will require the community to take voluntary action. Parents that are able and willing need to start volunteering in the schools. Partners In Education, or P.I.E., is a program throughout the district that welcomes volunteers and helping hands in both elementary schools. Parents can offer their time to assist in classrooms, the office, the library or any other area that needs extra help within the schools.
The Little Egg Harbor community is seeing change in the school systems. However, administrators, staff and the Board of Education remain positive that students will be given the highest quality of education possible.