"With the certitude of a true believer, Vellya Paapen had assured the twins that there was no such thing in the world as a black cat. He said that there were only black, cat-shaped holes in the universe."
-- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dwindling Funds Leave Wayside Wobbling

 There is no Miss Zarves.  There is no nineteenth story.  Sorry.  
Both have been eliminated due to budget cuts.

Recent budget cuts have created financial nightmares for school districts everywhere, and Wayside School is no exception.  The unique elementary school, which was accidentally built sideways in 1978, leaving it 30 stories high instead of 30 classrooms long, is suffering right along with the rest of them.  With funding cut almost in half, the educators at Wayside fear that the distinctive culture of their school will be lost.

Out of necessity, some teachers had to be laid off, including Mrs. Gorf, who no one had seen in quite some time anyway.  Other teachers, such as Mrs. Jewls, will keep their jobs but will be forced to cover classes on multiple stories. 

“I just don’t know how I’m going to do it,” Mrs. Jewls told reporters.  “All that running up and down the stairs is going to exhaust me.”

Mrs. Jewls also lamented that less time with her students means she will have to omit some of her more enjoyable lessons, including the ice cream unit.  “The kids all love finding out what each of their classmates tastes like as an ice cream flavor,” the terribly nice teacher explained, “but there just isn’t time for it anymore.”

Classroom teachers are not the only staff members affected by the shortage of resources.  The beloved yard teacher at Wayside is also facing unpleasant changes.  His time will now be split between three different campuses, Wayside and two schools which are laid out “correctly” on ground level.  Louis, who is on a first-name basis with all of the Wayside students, routinely gives advice to the kids and tells them stories on days when they can’t go outside.  And once he saved a little girl from falling to her death.  Now, Louis tells us, he won’t be able to provide that kind of one-on-one assistance.

“There’s just no way,” Louis said, “that I will be able to remember the names of all the students in three different schools.  And I can’t be counted on to catch falling kids anymore.  I mean, what if I’m at one of my other campuses the next time a girl falls asleep and rolls out of a window?  It’s just not feasible for me to get there in time.”

Despite the bleak outlook for Wayside School, the teachers are still optimistic that they will be able to maintain the one-of-a-kind atmosphere of the institution.  The students are simply hoping for more recess and less tuna surprise. 

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