Prep days eliminated for Union City teachers

August 29, 2012 8:03:51 PM PDT
It's back to school for students in Union City, but for the first time, kids and their teachers both started on the same day. Because of state budget cuts, teachers did not get their usual two days to prepare before students arrived.

Computer science teacher Charmaine Bantner says in 25 years of teaching, she has never felt so unprepared for the first day of class. State budget cuts eliminated the two prep days she has always had before school starts.

"I don't think the kids noticed that I was feeling guilty or nervous. They smiled and laughed, but I knew it. I knew it wasn't right," said Bantner.

Last year New Haven Unified School District employees had six unpaid furlough days. This year that's up to nine and all employees are taking an additional 1 percent pay cut.

Teachers are worried their students are losing valuable instruction time. The district has 175 school days this year. Economic teacher Anthony Pava teaches a number of advanced placement courses.

"My afternoon classes are AP classes so we have to prepare for the AP test, so fewer days is fewer days to pass the same test," said Pava.

Some students say losing the prep days is harder on the teachers then on them.

"It's a bit stressful on the teachers and the staff, but I think we can get through it," said senior Allison Drumm.

"He said he was a little behind so I understood," said sophomore Leilani Neal.

Teachers are less understanding about how years of budget cuts are taking their toll in the classroom. Bantner says her class size has gone from 30 two decades ago to 43 this year. She's teaching computer science with what she calls antiquated equipment.

"It's not the status quo. This is awful and I invite anybody my age to come back and check out school right now. We wouldn't be proud of what California is offering its kids," said Bantner.

While teachers give the state a failing grade, even this challenging first day gave them the inspiration they need -- students ready to learn.


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