Bergeson teacher questions her future. Her contributions to professional environment praised by school principal.
By LOIS EVEZICH | STAFF WRITER orange county register
4LAKids notes: This story missed the cut in April, hopefully this teacher will also miss the cut!
Being Teacher of the Year is no guarantee of a job. Holly Wiseman, right, is the 2007-2008 Teacher of the Year at Marion Bergeson Elementary School and is on the list to be laid off at the end of this school year because of budget cuts. Principal Ed Neely, left, laments the possible loss of Wiseman, "We will lose a quality teaching environment". Photo: SAM GANGWER, THE REGISTER
Sunday, April 6, 2008 - Principal Ed Neely at Bergeson Elementary describes the mood among his staff as "down." The $27 million in cuts the Capistrano Unified School District is making is hitting schools hard, and he worries that the impact will affect the quality of education the district is presenting to its children.
"The mood here is blue," he said last week. "Everyone is worried."
One great loss, he added, is that Holly Wiseman, who was voted by the staff as the 2007 Teacher of the Year, received the Reduction in Force notice.
"That's harder to take than most," he said. "We're in for a huge political fight. How can a state that's the fifth most powerful economy in the country be the 46th in how we support education?
"From the minute Holly got here, teaching fifth grade, she had the concept of a professional learning community, at each grade level and across the school. She helped to bring that environment to Bergeson."
Wiseman is frustrated and disappointed.
"I'm making an attempt to take my frustration and channel it in to more productive areas," she said. "We're writing to our state legislators and also getting involved at the district level. We want to be productive, to make changes in the process."
The decision, said Wiseman, depends on what the governor does with the budget, and what the district decides to do with those funds when they're released. "From our aspect, it's not up to the district, it's up to the state."
Three tenured teachers at Bergeson received notices. "We're an older school," Wiseman said. "We don't have as much seniority as some other teachers."
One teacher received a reassignment letter to a middle or high school as she is credentialed for those grade levels in social studies. Two young teachers are in their first and second years, and they don't even get an official notice, Wiseman said. They are considered on probation and received a letter saying their services are no longer required.
"But we do remain on the seniority list for 39 months," she added. "That means the district cannot go outside the list to hire someone else for a position that we are qualified to teach."
Wiseman is giving thought to her future. "I was always torn between teaching and nursing, so I may go back to Saddleback and take the science classes I need in the nursing program. As much as I love teaching, the security isn't there unless the governor makes education a priority. As long as they continue to take funding away from education, this is a game we'll play every year."
Neely said they're looking at the bleakest possibilities.
"New schools are set up for 20 to a classroom," he said. "Now they'll have to knock down walls for bigger classes, with fewer teachers. And the legislature may have to meet all summer. We expect a revised budget in May, but sometimes that's bleaker than February's.
"There's no more fat left. We're cutting muscle and bone."