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In support of Dixon teachers

Former board member says they should be appreciated

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Carolyn Brechon, Dixon

Dixon teachers have been working without a contract since August. Our community needs to rally and support them to show appreciation for all they do and their dedication in educating our children.

In the last couple of years, 25 teaching positions have been eliminated because of staff reduction and not replacing retiring staff members. Staff reduction has led to increased class sizes as high as 28 to 30 students. Special ed students have been mainstreamed into those enlarged regular ed classrooms where teachers are expected to teach and modify their curriculum for both types of students with little or no assistance. 

The administration wants to increase daily classroom time with no extra monetary compensation. Nowadays nobody gets paid once a month – but teachers do.

Board policy states teachers cannot contact board members without proper authorization or will be written up as a disciplinary action. I will venture to say not one board member ever takes the time to talk with teachers about what’s really going on in the classrooms.

A decade ago (2003) when I was first elected to the school board, the district’s working cash fund was $3.1 million. Fiscal year 2012’s ending balance was $3.5 million. This fund was meant for one-time expenses and for “rainy days.” When will the district consider it a “rainy day”?

Teachers currently have to copy a large portion of teaching material needed for their students on an allotted amount of copy paper. Why can’t the district provide out of this fund the teaching tools, textbooks, and supplies needed to help its teaching staff?

Even though every year there’s a threat of large deficit spending, the educational fund has had the highest balances in the last couple of years since fiscal year 1999. Fiscal year 1999 was $1.6 million. Both fiscal year 2011 and 2012 were $4.2 million.

Superintendent Juenger was hired in 2009 at an annual salary of $150,000. He’s currently getting an additional 6 percent increase over a 4-year period prior to his retirement in 2015. If teachers are expected to do more with less, why doesn’t the superintendent do the same by eliminating the assistant superintendent position? After all, good leadership sets a good example.

Why believe our superintendent and board on the district’s fiscal state when the board gave away in 2011 a total of nearly $1 million of property tax revenue over a 12-year period by voting for an extension of one of Dixon’s TIF districts? Are they representing the city or the school district?

I believe the teachers have more professionalism, credibility, trustworthiness, and caring for the students than either the superintendent or board, whose agenda appears to be materialistic – buying land, new K-12 campus, and a sports complex.

Good leadership works with staff members and governs with wisdom and caring, not dictatorial rule. Teachers are the ones who impact students the most. They’re willing to negotiate. Why aren’t the superintendent and board?

Note to readers – Carolyn Brechon served on the Dixon School Board from 2003 to 2011.

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