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Budget affects the Westford Academy substitutes

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Budget affects the Westford Academy substitutes

Substitute leaves message for their class

Substitute leaves message for their class

Anushka Patil

Substitute leaves message for their class

Anushka Patil

Anushka Patil

Substitute leaves message for their class

Anushka Patil, Staff Writer

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Ever since I can remember, substitutes have been a part of my learning experience. Over my ten years of schooling, I have had countless substitutes. Some were nice. Some were mean. Some were boring. Some were a blast. No matter what they were like, all of them had one thing in common: they stepped up and took the task of being the teacher when my own teachers could not make it to class, and for that, we as a school system are thankful.

However, the school district has come to the conclusion that we need to make some changes to the substitute program at Westford Academy. The school district of Westford has been speaking out about problems with its budget since the fall of 2018, but in January, Superintendent Olsen proposed the specific cuts that need to be made in order to compensate for the $1.2 million deficit between the requested and actual budgets. Among those cuts was the Westford Academy substitute program.

These cuts are going to be put in place at the beginning of next year and then more cuts will be made for the following years. The long-term plan is to get rid of substitutes completely at Westford Academy, though they will still be employed at other schools across the district. 

The district wants teachers to use Google Classroom to make lesson plans available for students, when teachers can not make it to class. Then, the students can utilize a room in the school that is being supervised by available teachers at Westford Academy, such as the library or Mac Lab. 

I am happy that our school district is coming up with ways to fix our budget problems. The fact that we have been able to address the situation and come up with effective solutions is calming. However, I feel that substitutes serve as an extremely positive figure in a classroom without its teacher, making them necessary to have.

I have built connections with many substitutes which makes me upset that the district will eventually replace the substitutes at Westford Academy with a Google Classroom program, which does not seem at all personal. Think about it: you cannot have a relationship with a website.

One substitute encounter of mine took place when I was in sixth grade. The whole class buzzed with excitement due to the fact that we had a substitute, which meant we would not be learning anything new. For the entire class we had a conversation with our substitute. We learned about her life, we talked about sixth grade and how we were nervous for the start of middle school, and we laughed together as a class. The hour of class went by fast, but the experience still remains with me. This year, the substitute came to fill in for one of my ninth grade teachers, and she was just as nice as I remember.

Another reason I am skeptical about allowing teachers to use Google Classroom as a way to teach a class without being present is that it will not allow for students to take assessments while their teacher are not at school. Currently, substitutes are allowed to administer assessments such as tests and quizzes. Without substitutes in the building, students will not be able to complete assessments without their teachers present. This will definitely impact the amount of stress a student is under, due to the fact that they are doing all that studying for nothing, and will probably have to revise what they studied again to be fully prepared when their teacher eventually comes to class.

Also, we should not forget the fact that the environment may be different without substitutes in a classroom. Students will be under the supervision of other Westford Academy staff who will be juggling their own tasks as well as supervising the class. This will allow for a more chaotic environment where students are more prone to get less done, which serves as a negative for their personal learning.

Let us not forget some of the overlooked advantages of having a substitute in class. For starters, sometimes substitutes know a lot more than they let on. From time to time, a student will get a substitute who understands what the class is learning at that particular time. The substitute will be able to guide and help the student through their troubles, almost as if the student’s formal teacher was in class. This may not be the case if the Google Classroom system is set in place. Students will have to independently work on the subject matter without having the ability to converse with an adult about their questions. Another overlooked advantage that I slightly touched upon earlier is the fact that substitutes, in the grand scheme of things, allow for other classes to run smoothly.

If a teacher abruptly decides they can not make it to school, then a substitute would have to fill-in for the teacher. If no substitutes are available, then another teacher who has a free block would have to step in. This causes the teacher stepping in to lose valuable planning time to organize their classes, resulting in a less thought-out plan for that teachers personal classes. If the Google Classroom system is set in place, then different teachers are going to have to multitask planning their classes and supervising someone else’s class during the teachers free block. This will most probably result in the teacher creating a less enriching program for their own classes since they can not fully focus on planning out the activities they want to do with their class.

The job of a substitute is more than just sitting at a desk for an hour. Substitutes serve as the anchor of a classroom when teachers are not present. Without substitutes, the classroom experience with an absent teacher will be completely different.

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About the Writer
Anushka Patil, Staff Writer

My name is Anushka and I attend Westford Academy as a freshman. I take the journalism course at WA because I am interested in improving my abilities in...

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Budget affects the Westford Academy substitutes