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Saved from the chopping block

Teaching positions, academic programming taken off list of possible BOE budget cuts

Social studies teacher Mary Kate Lonergan stands in her classroom in Cazenovia High School. Her position was listed as a possible cut in the district’s tentative 2012-13 budget, but has since been taken off “the chopping block” after numerous students and colleagues spoke in her favor during budget work sessions.

Social studies teacher Mary Kate Lonergan stands in her classroom in Cazenovia High School. Her position was listed as a possible cut in the district’s tentative 2012-13 budget, but has since been taken off “the chopping block” after numerous students and colleagues spoke in her favor during budget work sessions. Photo by Pierce Smith.

— Mary Kate Lonergan loves her job. Currently employed as a social studies teacher at Cazenovia High School, her position was in jeopardy last month, when initially listed as a possible cut in the Cazenovia Central School District Board of Education’s tentative 2012-13 budget.

On April 16, the school board unanimously adopted the district’s proposed 2012-13 spending plan, which did not include any cuts to academic programming or teaching positions — a decision both Lonergan and her students were happy to hear.

“I love Cazenovia, and I love teaching here. It’s my dream job,” Lonergan said. “Every single day I have a moment of gratitude, where I think how lucky I am to have this position, to be at this school district, working with these kids ... I’d love to be here for a while, but it’s frustrating; I can’t plan for my future because this will happen next year. Unfortunately, it’s like that across the state.”

In addition to teaching social studies to several classes of eighth, ninth and 12th graders and assisting numerous students as an Academic Intervention Services (AIS) instructor, Lonergan has also coached the Cazenovia Mock Trial team since starting at the high school in September 2008. She is a co-advisor for student government, a member of the school’s Student Success Team and a faculty trainer for literacy strategies.

At the April 2 board of education meeting, numerous students and colleagues spoke in support of Lonergan, telling board members she would be a valuable asset to lose.

Social Studies Department leader Kurt Wheeler said the positive impact she has on students is far-reaching throughout the district.

“Mary Kate has been a magnificent asset to our department and school. She is not only extremely skilled as an educator — knowledgeable, organized, creative — but brings exceptional enthusiasm to her job,” Wheeler said. “Her colleagues, her students and their parents are all delighted that the district was able to find the resources to retain her services. Her loss would have been a major blow to our academic success … The Social Studies Department has averaged 95 percent passing on the Global History Regents and 99 percent passing on the United States History Regents over the past three years. We owe a huge part of that success to Ms. Lonergan.”

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