Increase in budget cuts leads to major changes for teachers

Ruby Ford and Arthur Boyle

In an effort to cut $750,000 from next year’s budget, the BSM administration plans to reduce the number of faculty and staff as well as increase the daily teaching load for teachers.

In January, the administration announced plans to cut $350,000 for next year’s budget, but on February 22, they announced that the budget cuts will be raised to $750,000. The administration sees this change as essential for the future of the school. “We looked at our mission and decided to look at our future plans towards BSM 2020,” President Dr. Bob Tift said.

As a result of the budget cuts, one semester of the year teachers will teach five classes, the next semester, six. The administration will compensate for this increased load by decreasing “flex duties” such as the writing and math centers, hall duty, and wellness classes.

Even with this change, some teachers feel that the administration is asking too much. “The teachers are giving, giving, giving, so much, and we need sometimes. At the end of a day [spent teaching six classes] I don’t always feel like I can talk to people. I’ve been talking all day,” theology teacher Ms. May Lane said.

The administration is concerned that tuition increases that average in the 5 percent range will price families out of BSM. “We are losing more and more families, or families aren’t applying because of our tuition increases. When you plan a budget you want it to be balanced, and to do that we have to make layoffs. The point is to not do it more than once,” Dr. Tift said.

“The main reason behind all of this is all about tuition and all about affordability. And we’ve gotten to the point where many people can’t even consider coming here because we’re so expensive, and I don’t want to become a school for rich Catholic kids….We’re losing more and more middle class families, because they’re just saying, ‘If you’re going up by 5% a year, you’re going to be at twenty-five thousand dollars in a few years, and we can’t afford that and save for college,” Dr. Tift said.

The school has been tightening the budget over the past few years and has come to the conclusion that cutting some teachers is the best way to face the constricting financial situation. Activities and administration are being reduced as well so as to adhere to the school’s mission to be a productive and efficient environment for everyone. “I would just hope that people understand that this isn’t something that’s done lightly. We’ve spent hundreds of hours looking at every option and everything across the board…Everything is done in the context of keeping the school a great experience for the students,” Dr. Tift said.

Despite doubts from teachers, Principal Dr. Sue Skinner feels the new scheduling will not affect the quality of education in any way. “I have great confidence in our teachers,” Dr. Skinner said. “You have to be always looking at your school, saying ‘is this working.’ We can’t be looking at this as temporary.”

“It’s more demand on us. And I think as professionals we’re always going to be doing the absolute best. There’s always more to learn, we’re here because we love the students,” Ms. Lane said.

Despite positive reinforcement from administration, many teachers are not confident. “I know [the teachers] care about the student experience more than anything else. I think some are worried because they don’t know exactly how it will play out,” English teacher Mrs. Paula Leider said.

Teachers take home tests, projects, quizzes, and essays. Adding another class period means an extra thirty papers, tests and quizzes to read, correct, and provide feedback for. “My desire to do more creative things is increased when I have fewer sections of a specific course,” theology teacher Mrs. Becca Meagher said.