One of the charms of living in the River Cities area has been our neighborhood schools. A strong sense of community and support is almost automatic if your child attends a neighborhood school. Families live in close proximity to one another, the children attend school together, transportation is a non-issue, and some children even walk. Over the years schoolchildren bump into their teacher at the grocery store, the pumpkin patch, or the soccer field. While many teachers have no desire to see their students after hours, that doesn’t seem to be the case for teachers who live and work in our charming small town.
However, our local public schools just took a hit and that means local families did, too. A number of very valuable and loved teachers were recently surplussed from the local public schools. Both Springview Elementary School and Miami Springs Middle School were affected and some of those surplussed were teachers whose lives have been intricately woven into our community for years. Specifically, Robroy McGregor has been at Miami Springs Middle School for decades. Nicole Bain just completed her 10th year at Springview Elementary. Both have significantly contributed to the lives of the children in our neighborhood and as of October, both are at other schools out of the Miami Springs area.
“Every year, when budgets are adjusted, it is necessary for the district to move employees from one location to another,” according to the United Teachers of Dade website. “This could be due to drops in enrollment or a budget reduction.”
Other local schools faced teachers being surplussed during the summer months. Both Miami Springs Elementary School and Miami Springs Senior High School were affected. Longtime foreign language teacher and Miami Springs resident,Anik Zanasco taught at MSSH for decades and Esperanza Pocurrull was at MSSH for more than 10 years.
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“Every year, during September budget conferences, district schools are assessed for their staff needs,” said Springview Principal Catalina Flor. “At this year’s budget conference, Springview Elementary lost two teaching positions due to low student enrollment. As a result, there were some changes to the school’s master schedule to compensate for these changes. Three teachers were strategically reassigned to continue to offer the best instructional program to our students.”
Parents have always had options when it comes to how their child will be educated. Public schools, private schools, magnet schools, home school, and an array of charter schools all provide options for parents when looking for the best fit for their child and their family. However, more choices for parents mean fewer children in our public schools, which means fewer teachers. Principals do not choose which teachers stay and which teachers leave. Surplussing happens by seniority. Principals are given a list and it goes in order from the least senior on.
“Teachers are surplussed when enrollment drops,” explained Teresa Duque, who is a local resident and teacher at Springview. “At the beginning of the year we receive a certain number of teaching positions based on projected enrollment. If enrollment is lower than anticipated, then we can lose teachers after the school year begins. Unfortunately, we have lost students to the new charter schools in the area. If I were a parent I would do a great deal of homework to ensure that the teachers employed at any charter school are properly certified. At times, they may be on waivers allowing them to teach for several years while working on state certification.”
“The teaching staff at Springview Elementary is among the most dedicated and caring I know,” said Duque. Duque is a first-grade teacher and the union steward at Springview. She’s been teaching for 10 years within the public school system and prior to that she taught ESOL to adults at Miami Dade College. “Parents can feel confident that their children are getting an outstanding education with an experienced staff; all the Springview teachers have been teaching a decade or longer, and are true advocates for children.”
Our public schools are educating the future and most adults today are products of the public school system. Our public schools are staffed with our neighbors, friends, siblings, spouses, and fellow citizens. It’s safe to say that those who teach weren’t drawn into the profession because of the high salary. On the contrary, most teach because they believe they are called to the field and want to impact future generations.
Although local teachers have been transferred out of the area and our schools have lost a few of the best, the possibility of bumping into your favorite local teacher remains, and that is surely part of the charm of living in the small-town community of Miami Springs.