Over the past few days I was encouraged to learn more about the residents supporting an online petition that seeks to preserve certain staff positions within Franklin Public Schools. These staff cuts were being proposed in the 2010-2011 budget as a partial response to address a shortfall in FPS of $1.6 million.
I contacted Wendy Higgins, who is leading the efforts both online and in person to save these staff positions, and asked her some real basic questions. There are times where the simplest of questions turn out to be the most useful in terms of knowledge and information. After the jump will be the Q&A.
GK: Are you a resident of Franklin?
WH: No, I am not a current resident of Franklin. I am part of open enrollment program.
GK: Are you employed by the district or a concerned parent?
WH: No, I am not currently employed by the district. I am a very concerned parent.
GK: What has motivated you to start this drive to keep the guidance counselors in the schools?
WH: The motivation that I have to start this drive comes from my own personal experiences and is something that I truly believe in for many reasons. Please allow me to explain.
Although I may not be “actually employed” by the Franklin Public School System, I do volunteer quiet frequently each week at my daughter’s school. Because of the amount of volunteering each week, I am fortunate that I am able to interact and be around a lot of the children and teachers at the school. Needless to say, one certainly hears things and sees things in the hallways, lunch rooms, libraries, etc. I know that the teachers are very busy trying to focus to teach our children and cannot be in all places in the school to overhear certain things all of the time. However, the level of teasing, name calling, put downs, insults, bullying, and just plain meanness that some kids exert on other children does run ramped through a school. We all know that this is part of growing up and all kids go through this at some point in their lives, but things are different now in our world today, as you already know. The teasing seems to be much crueler these days. It’s no longer teasing on a “Leave it to Beaver” level. It more of comparing who has the latest electronic gadgets, who looks or wears the clothes that fit the actors and actresses on the TV shows they watch and magazines they see even at the grocery store. Which girl is going to be the thinnest etc. and this is elementary school. It goes without saying that it gets worse as they progress with each grade level. With this level of teasing with regards to the children, it does create insecurities, body image issues, depression, poor social skills, etc. The list is a mile long. Who will these children go to? Let’s face it, out of embarrassment; the children more than likely will not reach out to their peers/ friends. An even if they did, what level of advice does this give. They are only children themselves. As much as we believe our children will always come to us, as their parents with things like this, this is not always the case. So, who do they turn to?
On a more personal note than the above experience, my motivation also lies with another experience. Not quite 2 years ago, my fiancé died suddenly and unexpectedly. Needless to say this was a very difficult experience for both my daughter and I. Being a single mom at the time, obliviously this was a huge trauma and life alternating experience. I will save you most of the details and stick to the facts. If it was not for the schools guidance counselor helping my daughter cope with this tragedy, I am not sure how I could have helped her alone. Given my own set of emotions I was dealing with at the time, and not having really any family to assist, I needed help ensuring my daughter was going to be okay. I CANNOT stress enough what an important role the school and counselors within the school have played during this time, and still do daily.
In closing, I hope that I have provided enough background for you to understand that not only is this something that I feel I am doing for my daughter, I am also doing this for all of the other kids who do not have a voice. Growing up is very tough, we all know this. But, our children should not have to hold things in, or go thru their “tuff experiences” alone just because of the lack of funding in the school system. I realize with the economic crisis that we all have to make concessions and cut backs. However, I truly believe there are other alternative ways to save money within the school system without cutting certain key positions that could have a huge impact on the children. Understanding that at the end of the day, the school does have to operate like a business with regards to funding and the economic aspect of it (money in; money out). However, just like many other current businesses, being creative to save money to prevent some of these cut back is the key.
Bottom- line, we need to all come together and brainstorm to come up with different options and to “think out of the box” to make this happen. For example:
- Installing more energy efficient light bulbs that will over a monetary return in the future .Any change of installing solar powered lights for parking lots and certain sports fields?
- Adjusting the hot water temperatures to save energy, which equates to money saved.
- Regulating the water controls and levels on the toilets.
- Anyone evaluated the age and efficiencies of the current HVAC systems in the districts. These can be huge money drainers.
- Landscaping, any cuts there? (Maybe the schools don’t need as many flowers out front.
- Have the teachers be responsible for the cleanliness of their own room and trash to limit the janitorial needs over all
- Go to a slightly longer school day and offer a few additional days off throughout the year to save on cost(s) associated to busing kids in and out, and the cost(s) and expense of having a building open and functional for these days.
are just a few examples. This should not be about “us” as the parents;
it should be and is about “them”, the children. They are the future and
the legacy that we will leave behind. As parents, as a community (yes,
including the school system), it is our responsibility to steer them in
the right direction and to create and offer a safe environment for them
to grow and become the adults we all know and hope they will be.
I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to reach out to me and allowing me to share my thoughts with you.