Logan High students rally to save calculus teacher’s job

About 75 students attended a public hearing Tuesday night at the Logan City School District Board of Education meeting to try to save their beloved Advanced Placement (AP) calculus teacher, Liz Mott, who has taught at the school for 21 years.Among the students were parents, current and past Logan High School staff and concerned citizens. Meeting attendance totaled to approximately 150 people, meaning too few chairs in the boardroom on a very hot summer’s evening where emotions flared over teacher layoffs.Erica Evans, who will be senior in the fall and president of the debate team, helped organize a student-led meeting with board members before the board’s budget hearing to talk about the cuts, especially that of Mott.”I took AP calculus from Mrs. Mott, and she’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. So when we heard she was cut we were really upset,” Evans said. “She adds so much to Logan High. There’s a lot of kids who take her class that wouldn’t normally be involved in math.”Part of the organizing was done through a Facebook event page,

<a href=””>”Save Mrs. Mott”</a>

created by students. In less than a week, more than 100 people had responded to the page.Many of the students in attendance had graduated, some for a few years, and still took the time to come to the hearing.May graduate Christine Blubaugh said, “These teachers who were cut, like Mrs. Mott, helped me so much, going beyond normal workloads. If you needed anything, they were their for you as friends. So I came here because I feel bad for the kids who won’t have that opportunity in the future that I did.”A total of five teachers were laid off due to budget cuts. While students and parents immediately responded to rumors of Mott being let go, the names of the others who were cut have not been released at this point. Mott was one of two part-time employees cut. Three licensed teachers were also laid off, teaching in the areas of physical education, Spanish, health and science.The cuts total a $446,000 loss for the district. Seniority and teacher performance were not looked at when making layoff decisions because of the “last hired, first fired” policy. The board did look at advanced degrees, English as a second language endorsements, majors and minors and employment status. Many students voiced their concern over this method.May graduate of Logan High School, Carsten Christensen, said he came out for Mott because he “felt there was a lack of reason the way they were going about deciding who to cut. It was not based on qualifications. They are getting rid of teachers who have experience, and it just doesn’t make sense.”Superintendent Marshal Garrett responded that full-time employees took precedence over part-time employees in the decisions of who to let go.”We have to balance the budget, it is the law,” Garrett said. “We have very few options how to do it right now. You have to remember that school is a business.”Mott, renowned for her student’s high AP test pass rates, was employed on a year-to-year contract, which will not be extended for the 2011-12 school year. Garrett said he worked with the school’s principal, Don Cox, to put together a list of recommended names for the cuts. Garrett said they had the support from the school’s classified employees, and he made the final decision.Garrett said there’s a possibility of rehiring Mott in fiscal year 2013 if the district gets additional students during the October 1 count, which would get the school more state and federal funding.Robin Hendry, an out-of-state college student who graduated from Logan High School a few years ago, said during the board hearing, “Your job is to prepare us for the world. Because of the music program and the calculus program I participated in at Logan High, I’ve been able to succeed in school. You are cutting our ability to succeed when you cut Mrs. Mott.”Among the programs the board is considering when distributing the budget cuts is the music program. Ted Ashton, a Brigham Young University-Idaho music professor, traveled to Logan for the meeting. Ashton taught for a while at Logan High as a music teacher. He said the school expects 200 more students in the music program next year.Ashton said, “It doesn’t make sense to make cuts to this program because numbers of students in it are going up, and it affects their performance in all academic areas.”Logan High graduate Eric Ashby is now a Utah State University student who tutors in calculus. He said if he “were to sabotage our schools I’d start with the arts and move to AP.”Board President Lynn Hobbes told the audience they should write and call their legislators to help make changes to education budgets. The board agreed they feel they have their hands tied by the state’s budget decisions. While allocating some one-time capitol funds to pay Mott’s salary is an option according to the board, they said it is not a fiscally sound solution and did not relinquish their decision to cut Mott.Students determined to keep Mott are trying to organizing a fundraiser after learning at the meeting that a private donation through the district’s foundation can pay the salary of a teacher. Jake Cazier, a student who will be a senior at Logan High in the fall, is spearheading the campaign, which is still in planning and licensing stages. During the board meeting Tuesday Keith Mott, husband of Liz Mott, said he could pay half of his wife’s salary if someone else could fund the other half, so she could continue to teach.Cazier said, “We want to get the whole salary donated because Mrs. Mott shouldn’t have to pay half of her own salary to teach.”Keith said Mott makes $22,900 a year, and that is the fundraising goal.”Mrs. Mott is a phenomenal teacher, and it would be detrimental to Logan City School District as a whole to lose her, and it can’t happen,” Cazier said. “The goal is to provide quality education, not protect full-time teachers.”The group is currently working toward getting a license from the state to solicit donations. To learn more about the fundraiser, visit the group’s

<a href=””>Facebook page</a>

, or call Cazier at 435-754-5543.

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