SPS Plans to Slash Teacher Positions for Technology: Good or Bad?

Superintendent Anne Wilson presented a non-override budget that would eliminate 5 teaching positions.

SPS FY15 roll-up budget. Photo courtesy Sudbury TV
SPS FY15 roll-up budget. Photo courtesy Sudbury TV
It's teachers vs. technology at Sudbury Public Schools.

During a recent SPS Committee meeting taped by Sudbury TV, Superintendent Anne Wilson presented a preliminary non-override budget of about $38.5 million for FY15 that would be a 2.5 percent increase from FY14.

Wilson's budget would cost five full-time teaching positions, about $250,000 in salary, in favor of a 1:1 technology program, and middle school co-teaching, technician and technician specialist positions, totaling about $242,000 in salary.

One committee member was adamant about his disapproval of eliminating teacher positions.

"I just think as a town, as a district we send the wrong message to our parents, students, and teachers if we cut five teaching positions and we add technology," Scott Nassa said. "I don’t want to lose any teachers."

Wilson said the eliminations will be through retirements and allocating staff. 

"We’re not sending a message," she said. "We’re not cutting teachers' positions. I don’t anticipate eliminating anyone’s positions or anyone receiving a notice that they don't have a job next year."

Nassa said he would like to keep teachers so to help bring down the average class size. Fellow member Ellen Winer Joachim noted class sizes are currently below the 24-student guideline.

Wilson said an analysis done on class reductions showed SPS doesn't have the space to add classrooms.

The Committee voted in favor of the budget by a 3-1 vote.

What's your take? Are you in favor of slashing teacher positions for technology? Tell us in the comments section below.
siobhan hullinger January 23, 2014 at 01:07 PM
I would prefer that administration be streamlined before ANY teacher positions are cut. Every year we hear about teaching positions being cut and every year year we hear about admin add ons. The quality of the education rests in the lap of the teachers and parents. Administration provides structure. What is lacking/declining? Structure or quality education? Technology is a MUST. I've done some significant research on this as part of the LS School Council sub committee and we are incredibly behind in all aspects. I've done site visits to other districts and I've researched the direction of State and Federal mandated testing. We are well behind in preparation for what is coming. SPS and the Superintendent MUST find a solution to keep the teachers AND expand the technology initiative.
UserName January 23, 2014 at 01:07 PM
I wish I was surprised. And this answers some of my questions on the 1:1 technology post. My impression is that there are some large class sizes around town still. Plus, Wilson has a tendency to hire as many admins as possible. With the exception of Nassa, this SPSC/superintendent are horrible to teachers, completely without transparency, and needs some new faces desperately. Students have good/bad classroom experiences primarily based on their teachers and classmates, NOT technology and administrators.
Christine Hogan January 23, 2014 at 01:21 PM
The answer to the question posted above: My take? We must keep ALL the teachers. Yes to technology (see Siobhan's post above) but in addition to the teachers, not in replace of.
JJoseph January 23, 2014 at 01:25 PM
So in the past, it was always about saving teachers. Now it is about saving technology? Scott Nassa seems to be the only one on the school committee that gets it. Do not get rid of teachers. Education comes from teachers not computers. Instead get rid of the layers and layers of admin employees. Consolidate K through 12 and there will be plenty of money for teachers and technology.
Prometheus January 23, 2014 at 01:28 PM
Eliminating a teaching position is the M.O. of the progressives. Let them have their way.
SudburyCOP January 23, 2014 at 01:43 PM
WOW! I'm not really sure where to start! First off- Thank goodness we have Scott Nassa. The only intelligent voice on the SPSC. I dont think that Ellen or Rich have had an original thought for many years. I am all for technology in our schools, however our SPS computer tech cant fix the computers we have now! Does Anne Wilson plane on replacing him? Her statement that no teacher "will be receiving a notice" makes me laugh! Will she be filing more 51A's in order reduce the teachers? Lets touch on the override- PERHAPS if Anne Wilson did not incure so many legal bills ( how much did we spend to pay off the secretary that was suing us?) If she did not spend money on mediators, more admin staff, and decorating costs,we could pay for technology AND keep teachers!!!! Justin Beiber & Paris Hilton would get my vote before Robison & Winer.
Valentina Way January 23, 2014 at 02:56 PM
Even if they did get rid of teachers, which is stupid, they would probably try to get rid of the only good ones there and replace them with drill sergeants. Ya know? The ones who do EVERYTHING she tells them to do? Unlike the good ones who stand up who teach their kids responsibility, respect, and who actually care about the well being of their students and not their paycheck. Hint hint, Janice Donahue comes to mind, she broke up a fight and look where she is now! Michael Gorgone did nothing, but sit there and be hungover from last nights "band performance." The three children that caused the fight still have disciplinary problems... Perhaps one of the teachers (the one whose kid caused the fight) will get terminated, oh wait. She listens to Ann Wilson... So shes safe. P.S id vote for Bieber and Lohan, even though they both have drug and alcohol problems.
Elvira January 23, 2014 at 03:25 PM
I agree with sudbury cop- Has Ellen Winer and Rich Robison ever had a thought of their own??? The only one who seems to think outside Anne Wilsons box is Scott Nassa! Honestly does she pay you to agree with all her hair brained ideas??? If either one of you thinks you are getting an overide, say hi to the unicorns for me!!! You were already handed a petition of no confidence- not that it mattered to you....right Rich? You three are SO out of touch!!! Oh but wait...... you can always spin " a back story""" and file false 51A's!!! Always a good back up to cover yourself!!!
Jamon January 23, 2014 at 04:00 PM
The schools are more than fully funded - don't even think about an override. Get rid of the two bloated administrations in SPS and LS, and create one administration, and one administration only, like every other town in the state. Also, LS teachers must teach 5 courses instead of 4, like in every other town in the state. These two measures will save millions and free up taxpayer dollars for some of the other issues that have to be addressed in town. Until these two changes happen, millions are wasted and no one wants to hear the same old story about the schools needing more money. The schools have had their funding levels increased with past overrides, and now is the time that the schools have to focus on efficient management. School enrollments are going down now at a fair clip.
SudburyCOP January 23, 2014 at 04:15 PM
Well said Jampn! NO OVERRIDE! VOTE OUT ROBISON & WINER!! Sudbury needs new ideas, not the same old nonsense.
Nancy Vona January 24, 2014 at 10:53 AM
My son's fifth grade class size is 25. It hasn't been "below 24" for the past several years.
Nancy Vona January 24, 2014 at 10:54 AM
I forgot to add, thank goodness for Scott Nassa.
Concerned in No. Sudbury January 24, 2014 at 11:25 AM
Ellen Winer Joachim is incorrect about class sizes being within guidelines. Haynes has classes with 25/26 students. While it appears they have addressed the crowding for one grade at Haynes next year, I fear that removing teachers will have long-term repercussions. History shows that once positions are gone it is nearly impossible to get them back. Certain committee members argue for more technology, but frankly, what's the use in more technology when the teacher is spread thin with 26 students?
Christine Hogan January 24, 2014 at 11:30 AM
Does anyone know who implemented the current class size parameters? Is it state-wide? Consistent with other K-8 systems? When was it adopted?
UserName January 24, 2014 at 12:09 PM
Good question. A quick Google search suggests that the state sets guidelines for special ed and kindergarten classes, leaving the rest up to the districts. In other words, SPSC sets the guidelines - so EWJ is engaging in the usual doubletalk by saying that classes are "below guidelines" while not mentioning they set the guidelines. Typical. And Wilson says there is no space for more classrooms but is eager to look for new office space for her ever expanding Administration.
john baranowsky January 24, 2014 at 12:11 PM
Class size guidelines started around 1994 in Sudbury as a tiered arrangement such as: K-2 18-22 3-5 22-25 etc. The idea being that the early grades need a lower teacher to student ratio as students are still developmental. But if you ask LS, they will argue the opposite. They seem to be exempt from any rules or guidelines of any sort.
2Labs January 24, 2014 at 01:22 PM
It's simple then; SPS should figure out, ideally, how much money they need to free up for their goals, including lawyers fees to allow any whimsical firings of senior teachers. Then, they can figure out what the class size and number of teachers needs to be to make their budget work. Then, they can set their own new class size limits for that number, and do it in one of those private session meetings late at night while the parents who come out to the meeting wait for a couple of hours in a separate room, then get sent home after a few minutes of silently received questions. Job done.
2Labs January 24, 2014 at 01:25 PM
By the way, I just recommended my own post....in honor of the concept!!
2Labs January 24, 2014 at 03:02 PM
Wait, perhaps it's good training for the kids to sit with very large groups of peers waiting for a chance to be heard that will never come. Then they will know how to endure the SPS meetings as adults.
Ariel January 27, 2014 at 07:51 PM
When my children were in the middle school the majority of the teachers did not use the existing technology well. Fewer than half had websites, the majority of those who had them did not update them. If your kid was out for a few days either from a death in the family or illness the grade administrator spent time going around to each teacher to gather the work. Many did not know how to scan documents into an e-mail, or send a file that could be read by a non-school computer. Basically, I was told "If it is not in their contract they don't have to do it." The teachers who embraced the technology were buying their own programs at times even if it did help create specific files that could be sent via e-mail to students, if I recall correctly a letter from the spouse of one of the teachers somewhere in The Patch. So, unless there is written confirmation that the technology will be used appropriately and to the fullest extent possible, and if it eliminates teaching positions good luck with that, then no, don't spend the money.
siobhan hullinger January 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM
Dolores/Dedlock: I suspect your posts aren't loading on Patch because they have active links. Without an editor to prevent the block, you'll have to post without the link being active. I think
Jamon February 14, 2014 at 09:29 AM
very few teachers have a plan to use the technology. all teachers should should submit their tech plans, confirm that all will use tech, and then we'll see whether to fund. otherwise, almost complete waste of money like many other expenditures


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something