October 16, 2009
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Changes

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In addition to programs being cut, there is also no money to start new programs.

Being optimistic about the budget cuts, Leeson said, “Although money is not available for new programs, this can be a good thing. It will give us the opportunity to strengthen the programs we already have and that is something we need to do in our district at this time.”

Leeson predicts that the school district will become financially stable in a few years if it can avoid any unexpected difficulties. For now, though, the budget will continue to be tight.
Hit the hardest by the budget cuts are the teachers, who are experiencing difficulties in efficiently teaching their students.

Mark Hoffman, physics teacher, said, “[The budget cuts] indirectly prevented me from getting new textbooks needed for my course. I also can’t geany new equipment; I had to personally repair the existing equipment.”

Hoffman also mentioned that he had to make lab manuals with his own money, and he could only make one class set of the manuals.

Beth Guarriello, chemistry teacher, similarly said, “I haven’t been able to purchase new books, so books are now over ten years old. Also, we’re supposed to be starting AP classes next year, and the only thing holding us back is the money problem.”

Another major change to the science department was its loss of a teacher that was expected to come back for the current school year. However, the loss was subsided by the addition of another teacher, Greg Zahm, who transferred from the Career Academy. Guarriello is especially enthusiastic about how much LHS students will benefit from his presence.

The science department, though, was not the only area that experienced difficulties with the budget cuts.

English teacher Natalie Chickey is experiencing the same cuts in materials and staff but is concerned about making classes more creative now that there is no money.

“There are limits on what we can do to enhance academics like seeing a play... English is a core subject for the PSSA. We have a lot of books and we were fortunate to get some new ones, but I don’t know if [receiving supplies] is going to get better.”

Another growing concern for Chickey is the deterioration of the Classrooms for the Future program, which trained teachers to use more technology in the classroom.

“There are no more laptops so we’re cutting training programs. [This will affect] teachers who are half trained and new ones who are not being trained for the CFF. Students [coming from middle school] engage in their classes with laptops and now they’re not using them [in high school]. There is something wrong with that.”

The difficulties of the budget cuts have also affected the social studies department. The cutbacks in supplies has left American History teacher Megan Abbott with only one class set of textbooks for her students.

“It certainly creates a problem for the kids. They no longer have the responsibility of bringing in their book everyday and showing their assignments. Problems also occur with taking tests; the kids can’t take books home, forcing them to take very good notes in order to study sufficiently,” she said.

Math classes have also been hit by thd budget cuts.

Calculus teacher Kevin Black said, “In general, it’s been harder to get supplies and resources, but we also have not been able to go to workshops.”

The budget cuts have inevitably affected every department. However, all the teachers are working hard to maintain a positive atmosphere that students can adequately learn in.

Despite efforts made by teachers to provide supplies for their classes, several students have already experienced the repercussions of the cuts.

“Not enough books were provided for all the students in my AP English class this year. [Because of this], I don’t understand why Liberty got new banners outside the school when we can’t even afford enough books

for students. Education should come first and that means funding the academic programs before frivolous items such as banners,” said Kate Wilsterman, ‘10.

Although he has not personally felt the effects of the budget cuts, Gardiner Kreglow, ‘10, said, “The impact on the school has been enormous. Teachers are worried over the lack of materials, we as students have to learn in classes of thirty, and in some classes there are not enough textbooks, just class sets. It’s hard to study if one can not even take the textbook home.”
Less significant but just as influential as the budget cuts were the removal of the homeroom period and the extra five minutes at the end of the schoolday.

When asked about the removal of the homeroom period and the longer school day, Durante said, “For fifteen years, we didn’t have a homeroom. We took the attendance during first block, but we thought that the attendance would get better if we had a homeroom. However, kids would skip homeroom and then go to their next four blocks. Now if you arrive late or decide to skip, you’re affecting your first block attendance... We then lost five minutes in the morning because we come in later, resulting in the longer school day. We also added an extra minute for passing between classes, but I don’t think anyone really notices.”

While some teachers have said that they do not notice the extra five minutes, most agree that the additional minutes are great because it’s extra time for them to teach necessary content for their course.

“I noticed the extra time when I looked over the schedule for this year, but it doesn’t really matter to me if I have to work another five minutes at the end of the day,” said Black.

Unlike the teacher’s responses, many of the students disagree about the effects of the five minutes on the school day.

“I really hadn’t noticed the additional five minutes, but we need an extra five minutes throughout the day since it takes so long to get between classes, especially in the winter when we can not go outside as a short cut to get between buildings faster,” said Kreglow.

Leah Triber, ‘11 said, “I actually do notice [the added five minutes]. I used to come into school and enter classes right when the bell rang, but this year I come in early. Now, I’m no longer rushing.”

Contrary to Triber’s and Kreglow’s response, Rayelle Miller, ‘11 said, “I hate it, and I think it’s unnecessary. Who really wants to stay in school for an extra five minutes?”

Agreeing with Durante’s response earlier, the teachers thought that the removal of the homeroom period was a logical choice.

“Homeroom was a waste of time. The teachers did not personally know the kids in their homeroom because they didn’t see the students enough to know them better. There is now less movement in the halls, less chance of fights occurring, fewer disruptions, and, therefore, better control in the school,” said Abbott.

Although not in favor of a full homeroom period, Hoffman said, “I think homeroom should be in your first block so you don’t have to travel twice, but extra time is then needed to handle the homeroom stuff so no time is taken away from first block.”

Many students had mixed reactions on the removal of the homeroom period. Some were in favor of the change, while others were disappointed by it.

“I think that eliminating the homeroom period actually helps the day go by faster, gets rid of a usually pointless period, and gives you one less place to walk to and from,” said Ryan Sweeney, ‘10.

Disagreeing with Sweeney, Staysi Rosario, ‘12, said, “I think that having homeroom every day is much better than the occasional homeroom period. It is a way to catch up with what’s going on around school, especially because our first block teachers are more concerned with teaching than informing us about clubs and activities.”

Although homeroom does take place once a month for a mentoring program, some students believe that this is just as pointless as the daily homeroom period.

“The homerooms for mentoring are very ineffective since the teacher who mentors you does not know you well and only sees you once a month. I think Liberty should either decide to have a true homeroom and make it work or fully get rid of it,” said Kreglow.

Overall, the changes made to LHS this year are a challenge for both the students and faculty at LHS, and the best solution for making the rest of the year easier is for the students and faculty to work together.

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