Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Economy Brings Out the Best & Worst in People

I work for the Peninsula School District which is facing a deficit of around $5 million. Cuts will be made in all departments including administration. Superintendent Terry Bouck is voluntarily taking a 5% pay cut while other administrators are taking 3-4%. Bus mechanics are offering to give up a holiday and not take the raise that is in their contract in an effort to prevent layoffs. When I suggested that the para educators in my building offer to take a 3% decrease in hours I was met by mixed reaction. Some people are willing in order to preserve jobs while others are outraged by the notion. Still others refuse to speak or make eye contact.

We will be loosing some teachers that we’d like to keep and keeping others whom we could be without. My own son works in the Clover Park School District as an art teacher. Art is always considered to be expendable so we await May 15th with trepidation. That is when school districts are supposed to have their contracts out to teachers. Support staff, being more disposable, doesn’t have to be told until the last day of school. Depending on what happens to my husband’s job, I could end up being the sole gainfully employed adult in a household of six. I’m scared, too, but not so scared that I’ve given up believing that we are all in this together.

Last night I shopped at Fred Meyer on 19th. The checker seemed incompetent or confused and I began to get irritated when I stopped myself and thought, “He hasn’t been doing this long. I’ll bet he used to do something else that paid much better.” I left the store wondering if that might not end up being my husband in the months to come.

In the meantime, the folks largely responsible for bringing the recession to us are not worried about collecting unemployment, having to sell a home in a down economy in order to send their child to college, or how to stretch the pay check to the end of the month. Too bad Ronald Reagan didn’t live to see this.