Many students and teachers within the Eugene community will be facing a very situation when school starts next year. Budget cuts within the Eugene 4J school district are causing many headaches due to disagreements in negotiations. Previous reductions have already deeply impacted the district with more than seven million dollars being cut in previous years. Students, teachers and parents have all been affected within the past months, due to continued negotiations.
KMTR (a local television station) reports that the Eugene 4J district and teachers failed to reach a contract agreement on the negotiations concerning the $21.7 million dollars being cut from the current budget. Failure to reach an agreement before summer means teachers have no idea how much the cuts will impact them later in the year. Bargaining teams are focusing on areas such as cutting increases between first and second year pay, layoffs, PERS contributions and step increases. One suggestion is to “cut the pay increase between first and second year teaching from 3.5 percent to 1.87 percent.”
At Parker Elementary School, students and teachers alike were feeling full of “bittersweet emotions.” KVAL’s website states that it is one of four elementary schools within the Eugene District being closed due to the cuts. In the upcoming school year, Parker students will be split in half with some attending Camas Ridge Elemntary, while others moving to Edgewood Elementary. Despite some of the young students being excited for the change, many parents are unhappy due to the effort they put into fighting the budget cuts.
However, the current issue of the The Eugene Weekly writes that controversy is appearing, due to the closing of some schools (such as Parker Elementary) to give building space to others. They report that “some critics have long charged that targeting poorer and browner neighborhood schools for budget cut closures” while allowing other “richer and whiter” schools to stay open is blatantly discriminatory. The Eugene Weekly also writes that school administrators disagree with this, stating that supporting closing neighborhood schools even if no money is saved, is due to larger schools being better able to handle staffing cuts.
Not only will many students be changing schools, but programs will be cut and many teachers will be without jobs. It appears that the extent of the affect of these cuts is yet to be understood as schools have already been struggling with past reductions in their budgets. As summer passes and the upcoming school year approaches, only time will tell of the impact that these budget cuts will have on the community.