Due to the failure of parcel tax Measure B, our school district will have to make $16.8 million in cuts, including $3 million before the end of this school year. On March 10, the board of trustees will vote on a series of proposed cuts. One of them is to save around $100k by capping the Advanced Journalism class and cutting the adviser release period.
Not only will the lack of support for our curriculum and our advisors immensely lower our quality of education after these cuts, but the student journalists in our community will soon be virtually nonexistent. Losing the journalism release period means likely losing The Tam News, The Redwood Bark, and The Jolly Roger.
Of the cuts on the board agenda this Tuesday, one is to “suspend journalism release periods at all three comprehensive sites.” Our release period, also known as pasteup, is our allotted time to create the magazine, and the chance for our adviser to edit articles from our 150 staff members. Without that time, there will be no print publication. Online quality will plummet, as the journalism adviser will not be compensated for the 20-plus hours of overtime we all put in at school monthly.
Also proposed for Tuesday’s meeting is capping student enrollment in electives and changing the choice to a lottery or waitlist system. This cap will block students who have completed the Nonfiction course from joining Advanced Journalism and bar returning students from entering as well. By decreasing enrollment, we are inevitably damaging our publication.
All of the proposed cuts will be incredible losses for the district. But by dismissing our publications, we are destroying student journalism. Freedom of the press is being threatened nationally and globally; it doesn’t bode well for our community to end our support of journalism locally. The only other release period under threat is the Global Studies program; no other on-campus periods are in question (i.e. leadership and drama).
In exchange for a savings of $30,000, about one third of one percent of the district’s annual budget, we are losing a 100-year-old magazine that ranks in the top 20 nationally, according to the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. We are losing our in-depth coverage of the Marin City raid, where, unlike other local publications, we had the most representation of students’ voices impacted by the event. We are losing our news piece and coinciding editorial on the recent lockdown, which provided a unique perspective that other coverage lacked, revealing our school’s failings under the stress of that event. We are losing our feature that unveiled the inequity of the district’s maternity leave policy. We are losing our editorial on the scavenger hunt, which won first place as the best student editorial in the entire country from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. We are losing countless awards and we are losing our name. We are losing our staff members. We are losing our chance to serve the community and make an impact.
Stand with us. Come to the board meeting — 6 p.m. at Redwood this Tuesday — or write to the board to voice your support. Don’t let this be the end of The Tam News.