Stipends threatened, Keys band teacher makes a strong point
Facing budget shortfalls, Monroe school teachers have been told their stipends for extra work, such as coaching or sponsoring a club, might be cut or eliminated. The Keynoter reports how one district band director tried to shake loose some support for his pay:
"Following the Hurricanes' football game Friday night, longtime Coral Shores High School Band Director Robert Sax abruptly put the marching band on hold, saying the program's season is over. He cited lack of School District support.
"He's since reversed his decision but says his intent was not just to put the focus on the band, but to highlight the ongoing dispute between the United Teachers of Monroe and Monroe County School District officials over supplemental pay for extra duty."
In so many budget conversations, we hear teachers and other school employees say they shouldn't be the only ones who bear the burden of cuts. District officials generally respond that, first, salaries make up the bulk of their expenses so they will feel the bulk of the reductions, and, second, the schools are in the student education business so programs that affect students should be protected whenever possible.
That often leads to more debate over pay freezes, furloughs, layoffs, and stipend reductions.
But by cutting employee pay, are districts indirectly affecting student programs, as the Monroe band director points out? Is a district showing its lack of support, as he said, by expecting something for nothing? The director said he was just making a point, and he didn't actually stop the show from going on. Does his point need to be made more forcefully throughout school districts? And most important, if teachers follow through, will (should?) the public support them?