Principals' office

GothamSchools to principals: Tell us how you cut your budget

GothamSchools asked principals how they’re handling this year’s sizable mid-year cuts and how they plan to cope with the even larger cuts that loom in the near future. We’ll be compiling their responses on an ongoing basis, so please encourage principals you know to tell us what they’re cutting from their schools.

So far, we’ve heard from a Brooklyn principal who said, “We will have to eliminate about 5 positions …This flies in the face of the success we have had by lowering class size.”

And the principal of a large school in Queens wrote, “As of now we have been able to absorb the initial cut without any major changes to instructional programs. … If they make an additional cut, which we heard might happen, this year, then we will have to excess teachers mid-year.”

Read all of the responses. After the jump, see the letter we sent principals.

GothamSchools’ letter to principals:

I’m a reporter at GothamSchools, a daily news site about the New York City schools. I know some of you, and I know that you’re reading our site. I hope to meet more of you in the weeks ahead.

I’m writing right now to ask about what I’m sure has been a major focus for you this year, the budget cuts. Just this morning, we learned that Governor Paterson may cut funding to schools by as much as $600 million next year. Mayor Bloomberg has proposed cutting city funds to schools by $385 million.

During this incredibly tough period, we think it’s important to keep an accurate and complete record of exactly how cuts are affecting the public schools. To do this, we need your help.

I hope you’ll consider responding to this e-mail to let us know how much you’ve cut so far and what the cuts mean for your school. (What programs or services have you eliminated or scaled back this year? What do you think you’ll have to cut next year if the city and state go through with their plans to slash school budgets by much more than in any recent year?)

We’ll be compiling the responses we receive at our site, If you don’t want to identify yourself or your school publicly, that’s fine, just let us know and we’ll only print the identification you’re comfortable with (“Brooklyn elementary school,” for example, or “Queens high school.”)

I’m happy to answer questions, about this or about GothamSchools.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.