GILBERT — The Mingo County Board of Education met at Gilbert Middle School on Tuesday for their regular meeting but for teachers and even students, there was a certain topic they were ready to discuss.
Rumors and decisions have been flying in Mingo County for over a month about the possible budget cuts for the upcoming school year that will affect classrooms in a huge way, leaving many to wonder if their class will be the one that gets cut.
Tina Cline was the first to present to the board. Cline, who currently teaches multiple math classes at Mingo Central High School and previously taught at Gilbert High School immediately began speaking about the proposed cut of a math teacher at MCHS.
“We presently have six math teachers and out of those six, three of those positions have been filled by at least 17 teachers over the past five years,” said Cline. “Most of those seventeen were not certified math teachers which means over the years, students have lacked consistency in the classroom. The lack of consistency has led to a lack of confidence in our students. Most of the kids who experienced so many subs year after year are reluctant to take higher level courses because of the fear of not being as prepared as they could have been. Now that we have six certified math teachers, I’m asking you to please not cut any of them so that we can build our program.”
Cline proceeded to discuss how the proposed cut who lead to reduction of the available AP and Honors courses available to students at MCHS.
“Before consolidation we were told that students did not have the opportunity to take the type of classes that they needed and that many of them went to college unprepared and had to take remedial classes. That is not the case now,” said Cline. “I’ve been told that one of the proposals would entail the elimination of my dual credit college math class. The students in that class earn six hours of college credit at a much reduced cost than they can at college and I would hate to see them lose that opportunity. Many students who are not math and science oriented, that is all the math classes they need when they go to college and those that are interested in math and science are able to take more advanced classes their freshmen year because they have that math class out of the way.”
Cline also spoke of another proposal that she had been informed about that would result in the elimination of the AP Statistics or AP Calculus classes.
“Those programs are rapidly growing at Mingo Central which is evident by the programs that have been on the local news. A cut of a math teacher would be cutting a part of our rigorous program that students are exposed to. The students who take these classes come back and tell our new students how well prepared they were when they entered college and that they would choose those classes again,” said Cline. “In closing, I would like to say that the best and brightest students at Mingo Central should be given the opportunity for the best academics that we can provide and that means keeping our AP program in tact.”
Faith Hensley, a senior at MCHS approached the board after Cline hoping to let them hear a students perspective on the proposed cuts to the AP program.
“I have taken seven AP classes while at Mingo Central. I have so many AP classes to be thankful for and I’m especially thankful for Ms. Cline’s dual credit course,” said Hensley. “I can honestly say that that is the best math class I have ever taken. Many of times growing up, I always felt like I never had to work for anything and that I was always ahead but when I got to enroll in that course I finally felt like it was a curriculum for me and that class is the class that made me decide I want to be a math teacher.”
Hensley discussed the purpose of AP courses and that while getting college credits for the courses is great, it is not the only reason for the courses.
“It’s not about how many kids pass the AP exams. We would like to pass the exams but it is also about the knowledge you get. Taking those classes gives students confidence in being prepared for college. It takes me 25 minutes to get here everyday and I come here because I want to have better opportunities for myself. That is why we have that school,” added Hensley. “And I know you agree because I can remember its what you said when you built it.”
Hensley is a National Meritt Semi Finalist, has a 35 on her ACT and had earlier received an honor for outstanding test scores during the previous school year.
“Without the AP Program at Mingo Central, I can genuinely tell you that I could not have accomplished all of that. The dual credit courses challenge me. They expand my knowledge to not only be the top of my school or my class but the top in the nation. Mingo County has a stereotype,” said Hensley “They like to believe that we are not as educated as everyone else and I believe it is part of my life’s legacy to prove that wrong and without our AP curriculum, no one is going to be able to do that. I am proud of my home. I love my home and I want us to prosper. I have devoted my life to my education but I want our program to be a legacy. I want students after me to get an even better education than I received and I feel our program needs to grow, not shrink, in order to do that. You approach this issue from a numerical stance and I respect that, but some things are priceless and I feel that education is one of them.
Brandon Cline, another math teacher at Mingo Central approached the board to also discuss the budget cuts.
“I know times are tough but I know there have been talks about cutting a math teacher and I am here to defend that as well,” said Cline.
Cline submitted an article to board that discussed how students learn better in a smaller classroom setting regardless of the teacher.
“Right now, we have a math teacher with 32 students in one class at one time. With that being said, if you have ever tried to learn math with at least 20 other kids in the room, it is very complicated,” added Cline. “If I math teacher is cut, then those extra kids will have to go somewhere. Right now I have no less than 24 students in any of my classes and it’s hard enough to teach those kids right now. Cutting a position will only make it harder on us.”
Cline admitted that the Smarter Balance math scores had been low but added that the reason of the low scores was primarily due to the lack of consistency in the classroom that Tina Cline had already spoke about.
“Where I come from, if we have a problem like our low math scores then cutting our resources to it is not the way to fix it,” said Cline. “I think we need all the help we can get. The more individual time our students can get with teachers, the higher our scores will get.”
Following Clines delegation, the board assured all teachers and students that no decision has yet been made on where the cuts will take place.
Madalin Sammons is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. Madalin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.