If you think the cuts in the Millburn budget haven't directly affected Millburn High School, but instead just linger "behind the scenes" out of sight of the students, you'd be wrong.
Whether you see it or not, the budget cuts as a result of our loss of millions of dollars worth of state aid have actually been impacting students and teachers.
Look at the athletic department. Are you a big follower of Millburn football? You probably have noticed there's no junior varsity team this year, among other cuts in athletics.
In the MHS music program, the school band no longer is able to play at every away football games—the budget only affords for the band to play at two away games.
Take a peek into the high school library, in which multiple classes (sometimes around 100 students) occupy it at one time. No longer are there two full-time librarians and a library secretary, but only one librarian.
Even academics have been affected in some ways. No longer are departments structured by full-time supervisors who spend their entire days managing the curriculum and respective faculty members. Their jobs have been passed to special departmental chairmen, who balance this full-time task with the full-time task of teaching AP or accelerated classes and preparing their own lesson plans and assessments. There have been multiple nights where I've seen one of these chairmen in their offices past 8 or 9 p.m.
Take a walk around the school and look at the classrooms, you'll notice little to no differences from last year. There were limited technological improvement done to the school over the summer. You'll notice no new carts of laptops, plasma screens, or SMART boards in the school.
As much as things around the school have been cut, I am glad that the district avoided cutting teachers. Our teachers and our current student-to-teacher ratio enables students to work in an ideal learning environment, and to have more individualized attention, and more insightful discussions.
But the big budget crunch hasn't happened yet, and we can only wait and see how much more the budget could be cut in the spring. It will be a real disappointment if we have to pay fees for our clubs and activities, one of the hallmarks of our school. We are privileged to be in a school where students are afforded the opportunity to pursue unique activities and co-curricular programs at no cost.
It would be a shame if families will have to pay for things like courtesy busing, textbooks and online resources, lab materials for science classes, instruments for the music program and all the other things that students are privileged to have without additional cost at MHS.
Worst of all, if class sizes increase, students will be less able to gain individualized attention in class. Classes will inevitably shift to being more lecture-based from their current discussion-based state. MHS students can only hope the budget won't cut their greatest resource and asset: their teachers.
Max Sauberman is a sophomore at Millburn High School. He writes MHS Musings, which appears regularly on Millburn-Short Hills Patch.