School’s back in session in Bloomington. Monroe County Community School Corporation students and teachers began the new school year on a positive note today in spite of lingering concerns over teacher layoffs and an uncertain budgetary future.
Highland Park Elementary School Principal Jan Williamson said her biggest worry this year is the loss of three teachers.
“It is going to be a challenge as far as classroom management, because, for example, as I speak to you right now, on paper I have two first grade classes with 29 children in them,” said Williamson. “We’ve never experienced anything like that here at Highland Park.”
Williamson said the school is taking steps to help teachers deal with the additional workload. Stacey Pace, a special education teacher at Highland Park Elementary, said many of her fellow educators worked closely with a summer fundraising drive which provided money to restore extracurricular stipends lost to a recent round of state funding cuts. She said she is still concerned about the teachers who were lost to a recent round of layoffs.
“A lot of my colleagues and friends were RIFed or have experienced some sort of cut in their position and we’re definitely going to feel the ramifications through of class sizes,” said Pace.
This is the first time in recent years that the MCCSC has not been able to fully restore all of the teaching positions lost at the end of the last school year. According to Assistant Superintendant for Human Resources and Personnel Peggy Chambers, the district is starting the semester with about seventy fewer teachers than last year. Twenty-six of those positions come from elementary school classrooms.