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Teachers criticize Fairbanks school district proposed cuts

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Critics cite rising class sizes and employee cuts in their pleas to reject Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education’s $232 million proposed budget.

Under the proposal, the district would shed about 50 jobs, including teachers, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and library assistants.

“If you take away library assistants, you are cutting libraries off at the knees,” Alexandra Caccavo said. “One could argue that libraries are more important now, when children grow up obsessed with social media and apps to the point where they truly feel they cannot live without them. It is our duty to protect them from this narrow view of the world.”

The Daily News-Miner reports that class sizes are on track to go up by one or two students.

Sandra Ryan, president of the Fairbanks Education Association, said class sizes need to be small enough to allow for one-on-one instruction.

“That is where real learning happens,” Ryan said. “Educators want the ability to engage with each student and cater to their unique learning style. This becomes nearly impossible when class sizes balloon past capacity.”

Among the comments is one from a West Valley High School science teacher who said his large class sizes are compromising his ability to provide students with timely feedback on their work.

“The district is driving good, quality teachers from the profession by imposing even greater workloads, and guaranteeing that students get less attention and feedback from their teachers,” chemistry and physics teacher Gregory Kahoe wrote in an email to the school board.

A regular school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday and two special meetings are being held the two following days. The board could vote to adopt the proposed budget as early as Thursday.

About $8.2 million in cuts is on the table.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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