VOICES: School board excuses for layoffs ‘are ridiculously out of touch,' DPS parent says

A crowd of people protest layoffs of teachers outside the Dayton Public Schools headquarters building on Ludlow Street Friday.
A crowd of people protest layoffs of teachers outside the Dayton Public Schools headquarters building on Ludlow Street Friday.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: Dayton residents Sharon Buerger and her daughter Dottie, a sophomore at Stivers School for the Arts, wrote the following guest columns. The Dayton Public Schools board approved 241 layoffs and furloughs on Aug. 28. It includes teachers, bus drivers, clerical staff, school nurses, assistant principals and others. A guest column by school board President Mohamed Al Hamdani and Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli in which they explained the decision is linked below. A guest column from David Romick, president of the Dayton Education Association, the union that represents many of the impacted workers, is also linked.

“This feels malicious, this looks vindictive, and above all it IS disruptive.” These are some of the feelings I expressed in multiple emails to Dayton Public Schools board members.

How are the seniors supposed to complete their portfolios in time for college admittance deadlines? How are Career Tech students supposed to be prepared for state board exams?

ExploreVOICES: ‘This is temporary. It is also painful,’ Dayton superintendent and board president say of 241 layoffs and furloughs

The excuses disguised as explanations provided by the board and superintendent are ridiculously out of touch and show how little creativity we have working for our students at an official level.

Sharon Buerger. Photo by   AP2Photography
Sharon Buerger. Photo by AP2Photography

Credit: AP2Photography

Credit: AP2Photography

These decisions are having an emotional toll on our students who were already burdened by the state of our country. From Covid-19 to social/civil unrest our children are suffering and to take away their peace in art and in community is reprehensible.

"It used to be that our leaders and educators told us to never say I can’t. Now our leadership and officials expect us to accept I can’t as a reason for not fulfilling their commitments to our

community and most of all, our children."

- DPS parent Sharon Buerger

Dayton is the only district in the area to make these deep cuts. Huber Heights recognized their students pain and organized neighborhood marching band performances. Why can’t our system work for our students in this way?

ExploreVOICES: There is critically important work laid off DPS teachers, nurses and staff should be doing to help kid during pandemic, union president says

The excuse of lack of art supplies is eye rolling.

The magnet programs at Stivers do not come without a cost to parents, we pay magnet fees, we pay for art packs. We pay for these items the same way others pay for their school supplies. We buy them ourselves.

Instruments could have been issued with ready packs and chrome books, sheet music distributed through email, and Zoom meeting rehearsals held.

ExploreTreasurer: Dayton school layoffs could save $2.4 million in first quarter

It used to be that our leaders and educators told us to never say I can’t. Now our leadership

and officials expect us to accept I can’t as a reason for not fulfilling their commitments to our

community and most of all, our children.

‘We will not stand to see the thing we love come to burn to the ground around us.’

DOTTIE BUERGER

Stivers is undoubtedly a school for the arts. You can tell this just from looking at the crowd of students waiting to be picked up by their parents outside at 3:05 p.m. every weekday.

And that’s why we’re here. That’s the reason why we were drawn to this school and the reason why we stick around. Because of our arts, our passion for our medium that runs so deep in our veins that it can’t be separated from us.

Art is more than visual. Obviously lines and strokes of paint on paper hold a much deeper meaning than you realize at first glance, but there are many more forms. Dance, music, acting, and everything else: they’re the backbones of what art really is.

I know for myself that I hold a deep passion for my own works, drawn and written. And I know I wouldn’t be at Stivers if that passion weren’t obvious. And the teachers at Stivers have taught me so much. There are things I use even without realizing where I picked them up.

Stivers classes and its students have given me so much confidence in my work, and the confidence of others.

Dottie Buerger. Photo by   AP2Photography
Dottie Buerger. Photo by AP2Photography

Credit: AP2Photography

Credit: AP2Photography

These classes are what drew me to Stivers to begin with. And if it weren’t for them I would never have met my friends, my real friends. And they too share the same passion I have for their own magnets.

This passion, it’s one I’ve seen in everyone. I see it in the eyes of the dance and orchestra students the day before their showcase. I can hear it in the voices of the theater students as they announce their next show to the class, I can see it in the motions and faces of the art and writing students as they jot down whatever stunning new idea has burned its way into their mind.

These passions light a fire that you can feel the warmth of every time a student gets to show off a unique talent. These talents can’t be fed to burn brighter the same way anywhere else.

We, these students, whose lives have been forever changed by the bonds we’ve forged and things we’ve learned, will not stand to let this passion-fueled fire burn out. We will not stand to see the thing we love come to burn to the ground around us.

Dottie Buerger, 15, is a sophomore focusing on creative writing and visual arts at Stivers School for the Arts. Sharon Buerger is her mother.