Eldred facing serious cuts; Sports program considered
Cherish Galvin-Bliefernich, a remedial math teacher, gave an impassioned speech after she introduced herself as a parent, teacher and community member. She said, “We offer the best education. With this proposal, there will be 30 first graders in each classroom, and without a teacher’s assistant, they will lack the means to read on the level necessary to move ahead. The disservice you’re doing to these students is unimaginable. If you make these cuts, what will your legacy be?” she asked. “You hold the future of Eldred students in your hands.”
Residents, teachers and students alike spoke of “thinking outside the box.” Many in tears, including a half a dozen students, gave testimonials about the teachers who were proposed to be laid off and how they impacted and changed their lives for the better by their teaching methods, but perhaps more importantly, for being mentors.
One student said she came, fever and all, to laud Zita Yennia, who taught a college-level psychology course and acts as teachers’ union president. She stated that she rarely becomes emotional, but with tears in her eye, she turned to Yennia and said, “I don’t have a lot of friends in school, and you have proven to be a great friend to me.”
Superintendent Robert Dufour, who has been fighting the cuts by meeting with legislators in Albany on more than one occasion, reminded those attending that these are not final proposals, and that Albany changes its mind at least 10 times when it comes to funding for the upcoming school year.
“Nothing has happened yet,” he said with emphasis. He went on to state, “These decisions were not made by a superintendent who sits in an office,” further stating that he is a “hands-on” administrator and he has had personal friendships with the personnel he is proposing to cut.
He talked of the “out-of-the-box suggestions” put forth, such as initiating one school bus run for all students, or closing down one of the schools, as having consequences that will lead to further cuts. “For instance,” he said, “if we have one school bus run, that leaves our school bus driver with a salary cut in half.”
Jolene Porter, coordinator of athletics, said, “I know this won’t make me popular tomorrow, but none of the teachers have even proposed a salary freeze.”