Originally Published: November 1, 2015 6 a.m.
This letter is in response to the Citizens' Tax Committee and Mr. Pendergast's column on the PUSD Bond & Override.
Mr. Pendergast, you state in your column that closing two schools neither increased nor decreased class size at the schools. This is simply not true. As a result of the combining of Granite Mountain Middle School and Mile High Middle School, the class sizes at Mile High are anywhere from 30-40+ students in a class. This is a HUGE increase over normal class sizes, especially considering that all teachers are teaching six sections of their subject area verses 5 sections last year. I had a total of 200 students in my 8th grade science classes last quarter with several classes of 36 students and one with 38 students.
For further clarification on the staffing ratios, at Mile High Middle School, we have over 700 students enrolled. We only have two secretaries to take care of all the student needs, parent needs, teacher needs and the other numerous tasks that ARE REQUIRED BY LAW that they do. We have one counselor, and two administrators. We also have two part time and two full time custodians to clean all the classrooms and buildings from the mess that 700 teenagers make. In contrast, the last time we had 700 students at Mile High, we had four secretaries, a fulltime staff member to run the ISS (in school suspension) program (which we no longer have and TEACHERS have had to pick this up during our personal lunch time), two counselors, five full time custodians and two administrators. Job expectations have increased exponentially for ALL staff members while pay has not even kept up with inflation. Just to illustrate how low our salaries are compared to other districts, my daughter just started teaching at Mountain Ridge High School in Phoenix. She is a first year teacher with a B.A. degree. She makes $2,000 less per year than I do with a Masters Degree and 10 years teaching experience.
Before taking a stand on this issue, I invite you (or anyone) to come in to my class or any class and see what working in a school is actually like. Observe what actually goes on in a class. Sit in the lobby and see how hard our secretaries work. Walk through the school and see the condition of the buildings. Talk with the kids and see what they are learning. Shadow an administrator to see the multitude of issues they deal with on a daily basis. Stay for lunch and assist the teachers doing lunch duty or help our janitor clean up after 700 teenagers get finished in the lunch room. You can even stay after school for bus duty or just to tutor kids who come in for extra help. You will most certainly come out of the experience with a different outlook than you had going in. You will realize the amazing job PUSD staff & educators do for the kids in our community and the love we have for the kids.
8th Grade Science Teacher PMHMS