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Proposed $74 Million Cuts Spell Trouble for Teachers

January 14, 2011

ROANOKE, Va. - Slashing budgets to keep afloat is becoming the "new normal" for many families and businesses, and the state of Virginia is no different. Gov. McDonnell proposed some budget changes to the General Assembly recently, which include cuts of about $74 million to public schools.

Thom Ryder, an elementary teacher in Roanoke County, says that cuts in the last two years of $17 million in his district have resulted in 150 school positions being cut - and three school closings. He says this has translated to fewer instructors and larger class sizes.

"It has had a direct impact on each elementary, middle and high school. You try to give every kid as much time as you can, but ultimately you are one person and your time gets stripped so thin, it affects the quality of instruction."

While Ryder understands that, in tough economic times, legislators need to make cuts to the budget, he says children should be the last to pay the price.

"Education should be one of the highest priorities that we have as a locality and a state, and also as a country and we need to be fully supporting the funding for education in our state. That funding level has leveled off and dropped, and we need to turn that around."

Ryder says a primary concern for many teachers is making sure that all kids are reaching higher proficiency levels. As a result of No Child Left Behind, all students need to be 100 percent proficient by 2014. Ryder says with fewer resources, children who have greater needs and require more attention may, indeed, be left behind.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA