In H. Bruce Miller's recent article "Shrinkage Might Not Always be a Bad Thing," he states, "Is a little shrinkage necessarily a bad thing? Certainly not for the schools. The overcrowding problem will be eased. Teacher/student ratios will improve and there'll be more of everything from library books to pencils to go around."
Hmm. Well, some schools in the Bend-LaPine district are actually experiencing greater-than-projected enrollments this year, while others are indeed shrinking. Due to an equally diminished budget, hiring additional teachers is not an option for schools with expanding populations. Where do the needed teachers and administrators come from? They come from the schools that are shrinking, resulting in larger class sizes. As a specialist teacher at a school that has experienced a significant drop in enrollment and a few staff rearrangements, I can attest to the fact that in most grades, our classroom sizes have increased and our student/teacher ratios have gotten worse.
Fortunately, I work with a highly competent and resilient bunch who are doing whatever it takes to give kids a quality education regardless of expanded class sizes. We are dealing well with our shifting staff and student population. We teach our kids to get their facts straight and look at all angles of a situation. I would advise Mr. Miller to do the same.
Editor's note: Mr. Miller's column never suggested that the community ought to put less resources into schools. Rather, he suggested that reversing Bend's explosive growth might take some of the pressure off schools and other community resources. In reality, the funding crunch facing area schools has little to do with enrollment and everything to do with the state budget crisis - and that's a fact.