Medford Education Association union on district budget cuts

MEDFORD, Ore. – With the recent Medford School District (MSD) budgeting approval, which includes the cutting of some positions like librarians, members of the Medford Education Association (MEA) reached out to NBC5 News.

MEA President, Jessica Fitzsimmons said,

If you look at certain positions that salaries have doubled over the past four years, they have no direct correlation to student achievement.

The union said they are concerned with administrative jobs and salaries increasing dramatically, and that the budgeting for the $15 million shortfall over the next two years for the district looks like cutting teacher and librarian positions and not enough administrative positions. The district said it will lose some assistant principals, 10 elementary school teachers and all teacher librarians in middle and high schools. This is something the union says shouldn’t be the case, because administrative employees don’t directly work with students like educators do.  Fitzsimmons said,

We definitely would like to see some of these administrative departments whittle down. If we made some cuts in other places, at district office, that we could protect those positions that are actually front facing to our kids on a daily basis.

MSD said schools are funded through enrollment, which has decreased over the years, being one of the biggest reasons behind the budget cuts. The district said it is getting rid of administrative positions, even if it doesn’t look like much. MSD assistant superintendent of operations, Brad Earl said,

We have over 700 teachers and we have administration in the 10’s. There’s like 20-something administrators. On a percent basis, we’re cutting more administrators in this budget than we are any other position on a percent basis. It doesn’t end up being very many people because we don’t have very many in that category to reduce.

The district also said it is cutting positions by attrition. Meaning many individuals are retiring and their roles will not be filled, rather than traditionally laying people off. But MEA said this can lead to increased class sizes down the line, which some teachers say makes student involvement and quality education difficult. Retired North Medford High School Astronomy teacher, Robert Black said,

You give me a class with 24 kids, I can teach every one of them. You start raising that up, you put 30, 36, 38; someone’s always got a problem. Somebody’s got to do this or that. Somebody’s called to the office.

The district said the timeline for budgeting was really compressed this year because they were bargaining with teachers on their wages. And said this may have led to rushed conversations about budgeting cuts but said they’re going to avoid this structure next year. Earl said,

The administration is ready to have those conversations. We’re super open to ideas about how we can work together and bond around the work, as we like to say. And we understand it’s a tough job right now.


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Maximus Osburn is a reporter for NBC5 News. He studied at California State University-Northridge, graduating with a degree in Broadcasting. Maximus is an avid martial arts enthusiast and combat sports fan. He even traveled to Thailand to train with martial arts experts. Maximus loves movies, nature, and doing things outside his comfort zone, like swimming in sub-freezing lakes in the winter.
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