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Budget Cuts to Reduce PHHS Faculty by 18

A leaner budget will lead to larger class sizes in the county's largest high school.

Assistant Principal Stephen Arnold is a busy man.

Within network of administrators, he is a spokesman, a disciplinary and a hallway traffic herdsman—among other responsibilities.

But recently, he worked with Principal George Roberts in a different capacity: Eliminating 18 faculty positions to comply with next year's budget reductions.

Positions from every department in the school were cut, Arnold said. Teachers were informed more than a month ago if they would continue working at Perry Hall High School.

"Of course, it was information they didn't want to hear," he said. "It was handled in a gentle, private manner." 

Arnold emphasized that everyone, with the exception of retirees, was still guaranteed a job. Teachers will have the opportunity to transfer elsewhere in the county, he said.

The Baltimore County school board’s $1.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2012 is expected to leave 196 teaching positions vacant. But Superintendent Joe A. Hairston has stressed there will be no teaching layoffs; vacancies will come through attrition, ranging from retirements to those leaving the system for other jobs.

Perry Hall High School is the largest high school in the county, with 2,200 students. An enrollment report released in September stated that the school's population is nearly 6 percent over capacity. This year, the school has 165 administrators, counselors and teachers. Arnold said he knows of at least five teachers who plan on retiring in June.

Faculty reductions will inevitably lead to larger class sizes, said Arnold, but it's too early to gauge the increase. He said sizes also vary depending on the class subject. An Advanced Placement course may have just a handful of students, while a music class may have dozens, Arnold added.

Based on projected staffing numbers, Cheryl Bost, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, she expects the average class size across the county to rise from 26 to 29 students.

"Schools are going to have to deal with a dramatic increase in class sizes," Bost said.

She added that she disagrees with the county's budget-cutting approach. "All of the proposed cuts are coming from teachers, not administrators, and that is an unbalanced approach to dealing with the budget," she said.

TABCO officials also projected a reduction in Advanced Placement courses as result of budget cuts.

Baltimore County Public Schools spokesman Charles Herndon wrote in a recent email, "Advanced Placement courses will remain a priority for the school system."

This is certainly true for Perry Hall High School, Arnold said. The school will offer 20 Advanced Placement courses next year, one more than last year. Topics range from art history to human geography.

But other elective classes will be cut, said Arnold, depending on next year's student enrollment and course selection. These changes have yet to be finalized, he said.

Essex-Middle River Patch Editor Ron Snyder contributed to this report.

Shannon March 29, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Can anyone explain how this helps the budget?? Those excessed 196 teachers are still guaranteed jobs and will still be getting paid...just not paid necessary to teach our children! Sounds fishy to me!
Emily Kimball (Editor) March 29, 2011 at 05:26 PM
In order to maintain a constant number of teachers, they have to hire more each year, because some leave for retirement and others move on to different jobs. Under this plan, vacancies will not be filled and teachers from some schools, mainly high schools, will be moved to other schools, including middle and elementary schools.
John March 29, 2011 at 05:54 PM
I think they need to start at the top,like in the administrative positions. With the teachers taking on more students just imagine the stress they will be under just to handle the extra 4 or 5 students. Remember these students are our future.
Greg Burton March 29, 2011 at 06:05 PM
From the article, Cheryl Bost said "Schools are going to have to deal with dramatic increase in class sizes" A change from 26 to 29 is far from a "Dramatic" change. She also stated that cutting only teacher positions was unbalanced approached as cuts to administrators was not discussed. I will agree with that position if in fact no administrator positions are being reduced. May be a way for the Schools to save even more. I would bet that at least 10% of the school budget could be cut without a change in the classroom.
Wayne Monroe March 29, 2011 at 07:31 PM
I think its about time to look at high school sports for serious reductions . How many coaches are there for a typical football team? How many paid officials are required in a game? Groundskeepers? Facility maintenance? Amateur organizations can take the place of scholastic sports and perhaps paying fees for the use of school facilities.
Jen March 29, 2011 at 08:15 PM
When you are a teacher trying to give individualized instruction to your students, 3 more is a huge difference.
Tracey March 30, 2011 at 03:47 AM
Jen, I agree. and where will it stop? 3 more this year, another 3 the next. pretty soon there's 40 kids per teacher.
Dona Meyers March 30, 2011 at 12:13 PM
As the mother of 4 children who will and do attend PHHS (my oldest a senior this year ). This is an injustice to our teachers and students. 29 students to 1 teacher ratio is ridiculous. What happened to biulding another high school, has that been tabled ? Maybe if we didn't allow so many children from other areas to attend PHHS on special permission this overcrowding of classrooms would not be an issue. It would be interesting to know the % of kids that do not even live in Perry Hall ?
Shannon March 30, 2011 at 02:04 PM
Another issue that exists is that there aren't teaching jobs for all of those being excessed...there is a good chance that many of them will end up in the "warehouse" or assisting BCPS in other ways that do not include actually teaching our children in the classroom. It's time to start demanding some accountability from Dr. Hairston, the school board, and others in BCPS administration.

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