By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE - Teachers and other residents urged the Copperas Cove Independent School District board to reconsider 57 proposed job cuts in a preliminary budget for next school year at their regular meeting Tuesday night.
"I admire, respect and feel sorry for the board," said high school English teacher Janice Stalder. "Please look for a solution that keeps equity for students and teachers."
Speaking during the board's open comment period, Stalder cautioned against eliminating block scheduling at the high school, a part of the plan that would eliminate at least 10 teaching positions.
Stalder said scrapping block scheduling would increase the number of classes from three to four per day to a full eight. This would mean teachers would go from seeing 75 to 90 students a day to between 175 to 217 a day.
The increase in students also concerned high school teacher Myrna Hart, who told the board she sat on the committee that helped bring block scheduling to the high school.
"There's a tipping point. I listen to my colleagues, and they are scared about what they are going to do," said Hart. "I don't know if we can maintain that quality (of education) with 210 kids."
Cove resident Lt. Col. Jeff Gorres said he was worried that the plan sacrificed "long-term success for a short-term gain."
"It concerns me," said Gorres.
Board president Joan Manning said the superintendent and the board worked hard on the plan and did not take having to make the cuts lightly. "We are not chopping teachers and programs willy-nilly," she said.
The proposed budget plan is an attempt to cope with a projected $4 million shortfall in state funding for the school district next year. The reductions are the result of a $4 billion cut to education funding approved by the state Legislature.
Currently, more than 300 Texas school districts, including Temple, Belton and Lampasas, have joined a class-action lawsuit against the state as a result of the deep cuts in education.
Stalder urged the school board to join the lawsuit, which would cost the district $1 per student, or roughly $9,000. "We need to be leaders," she said.
The class-action lawsuit was on the Tuesday agenda, but the board decided to postpone a vote on whether to join until the next meeting in December. Previously, the board voted to postpone the vote at the Oct. 18 regular meeting.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.