The members of the Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association (PSASA) strongly support Mayor Schmoke's decision to close the city's schools for four days and to furlough every school system employee for five days in February. We believe that this drastic action is based on the fact that a single but costly sacrifice of school days reduces this year's budget by nearly $8 million, the sum lost in the first round of state reductions.
Our association agrees with the critics who argue that our city's children need more not less in terms of school time and school advantages. Yet we must agree with the mayor that any reduction of funds for student transportation, textbooks, curriculum development and lunch program is far more costly than the four-day closing. Baltimore's scant per-pupil expenditure already contributes to larger classes, less materials and supplies, fewer computer labs, a shortage of pre-kindergarten programs, run-down buildings, etc. In other words, we must finally face the fact we cannot stretch our money further to operate at even the present level for 180 days.
Therefore, the PSASA membership has endorsed the mayor's decision and determined that the inherent sacrifices will be worthwhile if additional reductions of programs and personnel are prevented. We have agreed to the loss of a week's salary, almost double the amount initially proposed for our consideration, because of our commitment to hold tightly to the small benefits we now are able to offer our children. PSASA urgently requests the support of parents, teachers, business people and every concerned member of the community in order not only to protect but also to expand the programs we offer our students.
The writer is president of PSASA and principal of West Baltimore Middle School.