The challenges of school cutbacks

August 30, 2010 4:57:03 AM PDT
As students prepare to return to class this fall, they are facing new challenges.

Schools across the area are faced major cutbacks, and that can mean everything from larger classes to fewer supplies and resources.

Anabela Conforti is busy preparing for a much larger kindergarten class.

"We are used to having, on average, 16-17-18 kindergarten students. This year, our lists are up to about 22-23 and counting," she said.

Larger class sizes at the Pleasantdale School will be only part of the fallout from budget cuts in the West Orange school district.

"Our budget was impacted to the tune of about 9 million dollars," said Dr. Anthony Cayanna, West Orange School's superintendent.

West Orange is one of the many school districts in New Jersey whose voters rejected school budgets. It means dozens of teachers have been laid off. "We've lost secretaries, as well. I represent secretaries, teachers and instructional assistants and the tech department, so we've lost quite a few, and the impact is going to be great," The president of the Teacher's Union, Nicholas Galante said.

West Orange is among districts that will have fewer guidance counselors, fewer school librarians, less vocational training, fewer teams for the less popular sports and fewer clubs for students to join. "They may not get as much foreign language as they used to get, as much music or art instruction as they used to get," Anthony Cavanna said.

P.T.A. President Nicole Penske says the cuts will add costs for families.

"We're losing a lot of busing for field trips and after-school programs, and it's very hard on our kids. We have to find supplemental things to do with them," she said.

Teachers and administrators tell us they want families in the community to know something that is probably felt by educators everywhere.

"Education is a journey. It's not always a straight shot and now it's a little bit of a bumpy journey. It's not a destination, but we're all in it together", said Joanne Polara, Pleasantdale School's principal.