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Reality of cut days hits home

Parents demand that legislators find permanent answers to the funding issue

As the reality of cutting school days hits home, parents are demanding Oregon legislators find permanent funding answers to the state's fiscal free-fall.

Lynn Roussell, an occupational therapist for Asante Child Development, says Monday's closure of Medford schools ' including her daughter's school, Abraham Lincoln Elementary ' is a bad answer to serious legislative problems.

I think the legislators need to have the courage to do their job, says Roussell. If we vote them in to run the state, they can't let the state fall apart because people don't want to pay their taxes.

Rogue River School Board member Trayce Geddes is getting tired of waiting while her district keeps taking hits.

I'm waiting to see some leadership, says Geddes. I want to see them fund education based on the Quality Education Model and make sure we are funded first.

Rogue River schools were closed Monday for their fourth of 10 Monday closures.

Geddes has a 13-year-old son in the district.

I have to wonder what lost curriculum will not be recovered, says Geddes. What is my son not going to learn this year that he should have had a chance to learn?

South Medford High School sophomore Kanette Sathre says she's trying to understand why her education is being shortchanged.

It's disappointing to me. The people who are voting against education had their chance, Kanette says.

They got through school and now we're .... She searches for words. I can't control it, but I'm the one being affected by it.

She is in advanced placement classes and is studying hard for a national test in May.

We're getting five days less to learn the same information as the rest of the nation, she says.

Geddes says she hated voting for a shortened school year, but the other options were worse.

Of all the options, this one, hopefully, impacts our kids the least, but we shouldn't have had to do it.

In fact, Geddes says, a special school board meeting has been scheduled today to discuss those other options, including cutting all sports and music programs ' a potential savings of &

36;200,000.

We already had to cut &

36;800,000 from this year's budget, Geddes says. Next year, we're looking at an additional &

36;600,000 to &

36;800,000 shortfall.

Medford is cutting 10 days as well. District officials cut nine instructional days and one in-service day to save &

36;2.5 million.

Roussell and her two daughters ' Halli, 6, and Maya, 4 ' spent part of the day at the Medford library. The girls wandered the aisles choosing books while Roussell pondered the fate of students she feels may be permanently affected by missed days.

I think 10 days off the school calendar is a huge sacrifice, says Roussell. Halli is an excellent student and she's going to weather this loss. But some kids aren't. They need every minute of class time ' and the disabled need therapy and the ill need medication and the list goes on and on.

Roussell says she was able to take care of her children today because Asante cut her hours due to state cutbacks. She says her husband will have to take sick days and holidays to fill the gap, and Halli will spend at least one day at the YMCA.

She says she is concerned about what may be happening in single-parent homes and in families without adequate child care.

What if you don't have family or child care that can meet your need? asks Roussell.

Closure schedule

Jackson County school districts have scheduled closures on the following days:

Ashland

' March 20, 21; April 25, 28; and June 4, 5, 6.

Central Point

' April 28; and May 5, 12, 19.

Eagle Point

' April 7, 14, 21, 28; May 5, 12, 19; and June 9, 10, 11.

Medfor

d ' March 20, 21; April 4, 7, 18, 21; and May 2 and 5.

Phoenix-Talent

' March 14; April 11, 18, 25; May 2, 9, 30; and June 2.

Rogue River

' March 17, 24, 31; and April 7, 14, 21, 28.

Six-year-old Halli Roussell, left, and her sister, 4-year-old Maya, peruse children?s books at the Medford library Monday because budget cuts closed Halli?s school for the day. Mail Tribune / Andrew Mariman - Mail Tribune Andrew Mariman