Students Affected Most by Budget Cuts
Less money makes Tennessee schools less competitive
Kid Reporter Emma Hall with the Principal of Grassland Middle School, Dr. Susan Curtis. (Photo courtesy Emma Hall)
Some students want more foreign language classes, while others want more technology in the classroom. All the kids and teachers at Grassland Middle School in Franklin, Tennessee, want to make sure that ever increasing budget cuts don't affect their schools currently high test scores.
"If the budget cuts continue, having lower test scores might be a consequence," Dr. Susan Curtis, Principal of Grassland Middle School told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. She has been in education for 30 years. This is her ninth year at Grassland.
Grassland Middle School has an enrollment of 1,030 students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. It recently earned the title of one of America's Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence.
Thanks to a strong Parents Club, Grassland Middle School is able to meet some of its budgetary needs through aggressive fund raising. The Parents Club sponsors an "Invest in your Child" donation campaign. Students also sell magazines to supplement the money that the state allots for Grassland.
"When we don't get as much money from Central Office, our parents sometimes have to fill in that gap," Dr. Curtis says.
Grassland has a wide variety of classes offered to the students, but some kids want more.
"I love the class selections here, but if the school had more money we might be able to take a foreign language in 6th and 7th grade," said Seventh-grade student Harry H.
Both Assistant Principal Chris Hawkins and 6th-Grade Math teacher Patty Norem agree that the budget cuts haven't affected the test scores of Grassland Middle School—yet. The budget cuts have, however, affected staff salaries.
"It is harder to hire teachers when the salaries are not going up, so the really good teachers are looking other places," said Assistant Principal Charlotte Pitcher.
"The budget cuts are mainly affecting the teachers not being paid enough and the lack of access to technology in the classroom," said Norem.
Right now, Grassland seems to be one of the lucky schools. Test scores are still high and its reputation is intact. In time, though, teachers and administrators worry that that could change.
"I would like to see more people supporting public education, (and) realizing the importance of children getting a good education without having to pay a lot of money," Dr. Curtis said. "And for people to realize that even if they don't have any children in school, that children are the future and will be taking care of us as we get older."
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In conjunction with NBC News' Education Nation, Kid Reporters around the country have interviewed their teachers, principals, and classmates about the state of education in their communities and what the classroom of the future might look like in the special report Our Schools, Our Future.
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