Changes this School Year - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Islander Times News

Changes this School Year

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Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 3:13 pm

In addition to the divisive lanyards, the 2014-2015 school year has seen dwindling state funds and

increasing class sizes. How will CHS respond to budget cuts and security threats?

CHS students and staff alike saw huge changes at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. Some changes were noticeable: a number of our favorite teachers are now teaching at other high schools, students are required to display photo ID at all times, and a “non-traditional” first day of school welcomed us back and promoted the themes of TRIBE (teamwork, responsibility, integrity, bonding and excellence) on August 21. Some of these changes were discussed in detail on social networking sites, but losses in the counseling department and cuts to the number of elective classes went unnoticed to the majority of students.

The most obvious change for students at CHS this year seemed to be those bright green lanyards. Paired with a matching photo ID, these lanyards awaited us at schedule pick up just before school started. An ASB representative handed the ID and lanyard to each student and explained that they were were to be worn at all times on campus, no exceptions.

“To many, it seemed like just another pointless rule made to make life difficult,” said Senior Class President James Harbaugh, who sees the lanyards as a positive change for CHS. According to Harbaugh, the lanyards are an alternative to a closed campus at lunch. “Above all else, student safety was the main force driving the lanyard’s implementation. In the wake of recent tragic events across the nation involving school shootings, changes were necessary,” he said. “Having a way to differentiate members of staff and students from those who may potentially want to do harm is very important, and if wearing a lanyard is the price I have to pay for safety, so be it. I’ll wear five if I have to.”

Other students weren’t so enthusiastic about the the idea of wearing a new accessory to school every day. “I don’t understand the point, really,” said senior Franchesca Edhlund. “It seems like if someone really wants to get on campus, they will. Not having a lanyard won’t stop them.” The administration and its ASB counterparts were very clear about the lanyards; they are required to be worn at all times, whether the students like to wear them or not.

While students were occupied by debating the necessity of lanyards, the most concerning changes for teachers were fiscal ones. Due to the failure of Prop E, a local bond measure that would have made up for part of the district’s severe budget deficit this school year, teachers have seen a fraction of their paycheck disappear. They are teaching fewer classes that are overfilled with students. Because of the budget cuts, elective classes have suffered heavily.

“We have cut the number of elective classes, but not elective programs,” said the Director of Coronado School of the Arts and CHS Assistant Principal Shane Schmeichel. “The number of classes has decreased, and the number of students in these elective classes has increased. The teacher feels the cut in their paycheck and number of classes they teach, but the students generally don’t.” A direct example is CoSA’s digital media program, where about 30 first-year students were placed in a classroom with only about 20 computers.

Some of students’ favorite teachers are no longer teaching at CHS because of these budget cuts. According to Principal Jenny Moore, other districts in San Diego have been able to offer their teachers higher salaries, while the CUSD staff hasn’t seen a pay raise in several years. “In fact, teachers took a pay cut when we shortened the students’ school year,” she said.

“We are going to lose teachers because our salaries are lower than other districts. If I was a teacher of three or four years, I’d be looking to move too,” said economics teacher Tamara O’Brien at the school board meeting on August 21.

Algebra teacher Steve Farrar, physics teacher Lindsay Goulet, digital media instructor Patrick Galligan and engineering teacher Erik Olsen are just some of the teacher who opted to switch to other districts this year. “Based on budget forecasts, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to give our teachers a raise anytime soon,” said Moore.

Despite these changes to our school, whether they be preventative safety measures or disappointing budget cuts, Principal Moore said that Coronado High School students and staff can look forward to another fantastic year. “I’m very proud of the staff that we have and the staff that we continue to attract,” she said. “We’ve been able to hire some great new teachers this year and I think the incredibly committed staff we have will continue being able to serve our students well.”

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