The future

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    On Tuesday, Nov. 8, those old enough are voting not only for the future of our country but the future of the school district.  Proposition Howell is a 60 cent tax levy for FHSD schools to operate and function at the normal level which they haven’t been able to do due to the recent budget cuts.

       If Proposition Howell doesn’t pass, the school is facing millions of dollars in budget cuts. Class sizes will increase; FACS, music and art classes will be cut, technology in the classrooms won’t be updated, buses may be cut down and guidance counselors may have to take on more students.   Ms. Grace Clifford is a FACS teacher which is one of the departments facing major cuts if Prop Howell doesn’t pass. FACS classes have recently updated curriculum to include more labs they may not have funding for.

       “In two and a half years, we’ve seen almost $3000 of budget cuts, just to the department,” Clifford said.

    FACs (Family and Consumer Science) classes are those such as cooking, child development, sewing and design classes. Music classes like choir may continue to get cut. Fashion design was a class lost this year to the budget cut; other FACs classes that may get cut are clothing and housing classes.

       “Anything that doesn’t have 25-30 kids, could get cut if it doesn’t pass,” Clifford said.

    FACS classes are not the only ones who’d feel the effects. Classes using special materials won’t be able to buy new products; art classes need paints, paper and clay and cooking classes need food to function. If their funding gets cut, their classes suffer and the students can’t work.  Business classes won’t have funding for enough computers for all of the students. Their class sizing will go up while the funding goes down.

        “Most of the curriculum in the school is not more than four or five years old, its written for technology and without the money for the technology, that’s where we’ll get hurt,” Clifford said.

    The outcome of the vote on Tuesday will start affecting classes on Wednesday. Though the budget cuts won’t go into effect until 2017, the teachers spirits will change.

        “Morale of the teachers will be affected, and that will affect classes,” said Clifford

    If Prop Howell passes, it could bring back recent budget cuts, fix technology and restore supplies and teaching positions. Class sizes could go back to normal as soon as next year with the restoration of teaching positions. Teaching positions wouldn’t just be classroom teachers; it would include assistant teachers and ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers who provide extra help to the students who need it.

         “I’m a true optimist, I believe we’ll pass it, because I’m afraid to think what would happen if it doesn’t, “ Clifford said.

    In the last school year, class sizes have gone up to 32 students instead of 28. 190 staffing positions have been cut in the district. At FHC, one of the counselor positions has been cut to part time. Cutting even half a position has increased Mrs. Wendy Ahearn’s, a counselor here, number of students she guides by 50.

    “[If it passes] we would just maintain everything we’re doing in our district like keeping sports, after school tutoring and bus transportation and some improvements to our school security and technology, “ Mrs. Ahearn said.

    With class sizes increasing, placing new students is becoming a challenge, according to Mrs. Ahearn. Classrooms have a max capacity about 33, according to Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Our class sizes are quickly reaching that number, with some classes having as many as 32 kids operating classes is becoming hard. Next year, if Prop Howell doesn’t pass, classes may hit the maximum.

        “Class sizes are already bigger this year than they were before. I don’t know how much bigger we can make them because you can only fit so many students in one classroom. It’s difficult when new students transfer to us and there’s no room to put them in and so we have to overload classes and that’s really difficult for everyone, “ said Ahearn.

    As soon as next school year, we could see class sizes changing, technology not being updated, supplies not being bought, buses being cut and possibly more staff positions being lost. These losses will affect the entire school and others in our district if Prop Howell doesn’t pass. Proposition Howell is a chance to make a difference. They decide future students’ educational opportunities.