Board made wrong choice


I am enraged by the decision made by the Sweet Home School Board to adopt a four-day school week. I completely understand the budget crises going on in school districts across Oregon; however, I don’t feel that Sweet Home made the right choice for our community by voting for a four-day school week.

I am a special education assistant for the Greater Albany Public School District and have been employed by them since 1999. I’ve had numerous people ask me throughout the years why I don’t work in the community in which I live. I always told them I would be taking a substantial pay cut (about $5 an hour) to work in Sweet Home and now, with this decision, I feel truly fortunate to have a job in Albany.

Albany schools looked into the idea of a four-day school week last spring and decided against it because of the adverse effects it would place on too many people in the community. The truth is it wasn’t going to be saving that much more money to justify negatively affecting a big percentage of staff members, community members and parents.

I’m curious if the citizens of Sweet Home realize the direct impact the four-day school week is going to have on classified employees (assistants, custodians, bus drivers, office and kitchen staff, etc.) who are an integral part of the schools and already make the least amount of money. I’m not sure who thought it would be a novel idea to cut the wages of the staff members who are already underpaid for their service.

It isn’t a fair or ethical decision! I have the utmost respect for teachers and administrators, being an educator myself, but use some common sense and make cuts equal, from the superintendent all the way down the chain of command. I believe there was an “agenda” from the beginning and, no matter what the community thought or how they responded, the votes were still going to be stacked in favor of the four-day school week.

I realize there is no easy answer, but rest assured – the answer isn’t to make our classified employees take the fall for the economic mess in education that’s taking place!

Then comes the burden this decision is going to put on the parents of Sweet Home. Our son attends Little Promises after school and will continue to go there next year, including all day on Fridays. I’ve heard the Boys and Girls Club will be offering a competitive rate for Fridays next year, but what I haven’t heard is are they going to be able to accommodate the influx of students and provide proper care and supervision to them all?

I am also deeply concerned about the junior high and high school succumbing to boredom, therefore leading to increased loitering, mischief and poor decision making due to a lack of stability and structure that children so desperately need. There is literally nothing for the youth of Sweet Home to productively do to pass their time wisely every Friday. There will also be a financial aspect placed on families who are already struggling to make ends meet and now have to worry about what to do with their children on Fridays.

The majority of people to whom I have spoken feel the same as I do. The four-day school week is a terrible solution to the education budget problems in Sweet Home. I have a feeling that it’s going to be very evident next year that more time and consideration should’ve been placed on a decision that is going to affect the entire community of Sweet Home.

Shame on everyone who voted yes to an option that will forever change Sweet Home, and not for the better!

Teresa Wilson

Sweet Home