January 27, 2010
I am writing to express my concern over the proposed cuts to staffing of special programs and the potential elimination of transportation for special programs. Both changes will greatly challenge the ability of special programs like the Blair Magnet program to maintain their quality.
With a child in the Blair Magnet program, I am most acutely aware of the impact these cuts will have on that program. It is my belief that all special programs will be intensely impacted by these cuts; it will greatly inhibit the ability of all programs to meet their full potential.
Staff reductions place huge stresses on well-known well-established programs such as the Blair Magnet, especially when cuts occur year after year. My son is a junior at Blair and this is our third consecutive year of staffing reductions. FY2009 saw significant cuts with 2+ positions eliminated, an extra required teaching period added for magnet staff and elimination of the compensation for teaching an additional 8th period class. FY2010 results in additional cuts, with the elimination of yet another magnet staff position. Over the past several years, the Blair Magnet staff has been cut by more than 25%, from 18 to just under 13 FTE staff positions.
The program will be greatly strained by the proposed staffing cuts, both in the budget and the potential cuts. The motivated and dedicated staff at Blair has found creative ways to get by with past cuts but there is a limit to their resourcefulness--these cuts will definitely test their mettle.
Elimination of transportation for special programs will further impair the Blair Magnet program and all special programs. Those families with the means to provide their own transportation will do so. However, for those impoverished but talented students who rely on free public education, educational opportunities in special programs will no longer be an option. These students will suffer by not having their educational needs met. Students able to find transportation to special programs will also suffer, from the reduced academic talent pool in their program. And in the long run, our society will suffer, as these students will miss developing to their full potential as outstanding contributors to our society.
While I fully understand that this budget is being proposed during difficult economic times, I implore you to weigh the impact staffing and transportation cuts will have on the ability of MCPS to meet the educational needs as you move forward in the budgetary process.