I had to bite my lip at last week’s Rappahannock County School Board budget hearing when the first public speaker (and then others) suggested that teachers are only instructing for 22.5 hours per week (due to block scheduling?) and that they therefore should be considered part-time employees. He further suggested that teachers are not deserving of full-time benefits.
I suppose this notion may be derived from the business practices that companies such as Papa John’s Pizza have employed to skirt new federal requirements pertaining to full-time employees. I hesitate to think of the consequences and results if teachers are now part-time employees.
If any of these speakers – who to my knowledge have no students at our school system, and some of whom send their children to private schools – would like to walk the halls with me for any extended period of time and meet the professionals who have made great personal sacrifices to become public servants of our county and its children, I would love to have you as my guest. For those who cannot, a virtual tour is as follows:
Go to Patti Waddell’s biology classroom between 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and see the her teaching and working with students who need extra help. Walk past David Naser’s chemistry/physics room any time before or after school, and on the way pass Melissa Delcour’s English class and pop in and see the wall of fame of all the students she has helped get to the next level – not in sports but academically – and notice the plaque on the former classroom door of retired teacher Roger Flinchum. Tell me he, or anyone else, could be considered a part-time employee.
You might have missed some of the math teachers only to find them tutoring students in the library after school, but don’t ignore their SOL success numbers. Pass by the art room of teacher Joy Sours but be careful not to trip over any of the students editing the yearbook, preparing for After Prom or making ceramic bowls for the Food Pantry’s “Empty Bowls” fundraiser. Keep going and see the computer lab where students can take Virtual Virginia classes, prepare for their GEDs or complete Governor’s School assignments.
If you’re hungry, stop in the culinary arts room for a sample of what may be being prepared for a catering event such as the Taste of Rappahannock, or just the daily exploration of culinary delight, and take notice of all the SkillsUSA winners here, as well as the students from Madison County in our cooperative education program.
Take a stroll down the new wing and check on the award-winning RCHS band, or the framed picture in front of Scott Schlosser’s room of the state-champion building trades team. Stop in the special education classroom and see dedicated professionals care for special needs students, and make sure to thank the aides who accompany these students to inclusion classes – oh I forgot, they don’t do that in private schools.
And if you can stop by in the evenings or on the weekends, you will see our facilities being used by our coaches and athletics director, working hard to give our student athletes the best chance to become competitive, and by teachers working hard to get ready for the coming week.
From top to bottom, the needs of students are being meet to the best of our ability – from the college-bound to those seeking a technical/professional career to those who, through no fault of their own, may attend our public school until they are 22 years old because of their disabilities.
The real problem here is not that our schools are overstaffed. (An effectiveness study was done several years ago and stated conclusively that we are understaffed.) The problem is that we have created a division of a county which is a retirement community for many, and for others a place to raise a family. Once again, the composite index has pitted the taxpayers against the school system – and now, through your very words, the teachers who choose to work here.
I understand that many don’t want to pay higher taxes; as a landowner in Rappahannock, I too open my tax bill with dread every year. But please don’t mask your desire to lower taxes with a personal attack on a hard-working group of teaching professionals. That is not only unfair but also, when matched with your statements that you “support education,” hypocritical.