One year later: RHS business diminished but not destroyed

Feature Photo By: Hannah Metzger – Mr. Newman, Rangeview’s only business teacher, sits with two students during his second period Introduction to Business class. Introduction to Business is one of the only two remaining business classes still offered at RHS. 

By: Hannah Metzger, Review Staff

It has been just over one year since Rangeview nearly lost its business department in February 2016. Upon hearing of Principal Fay’s plans to terminate Rangeview’s business department, students and staff alike took to social media and local news outlets to voice their dismay.

One former Rangeview senior, Kim McGuire, tweeted, “But there’s enough funding to get new televisions in the counseling department right? #Priorities,” while several other students and club accounts tweeted out the hashtag #SaveRangeviewBuisness.

When Fay eventually rescinded his decision and informed the student body that Rangeview’s business department was, in fact, not going to be cut, many students in the building felt a sense of satisfaction and triumph.

However, one year later with only one remaining business teacher, two different business classes offered, and having lost DECA completely, was the business department really saved?

“I’m more than happy the program is still here,” expressed Rangeview junior Cynthia Corral, “but it seems some opportunities have been taken away from students. Even though we still stand, our support system lacks. This year I feel there is minimal support from the rest of the school.”

Newman stands in front of Introduction to Business class. Rangeview had lost ten business courses since last school year. (Hannah Metzger)

Corral is not alone in her feelings that, despite the business department still running, it’s been negatively impacted in a drastic way since last school year. Former Rangeview business teacher and current math teacher, Mr. Gerard, explained the restricting updates that have occurred.

“The business department has changed dramatically in the limited courses offered and with only one teacher to run the department,” explained Gerard. “Which limits options for students and the amount of pathways offered to students to take… My feelings are that we are limiting access to our students on options for career paths. Students in those classes like all other classes are given not just educational knowledge but also a ‘sneak peek’ into what a career in that field or related field may be like.”

Fay has expressed his regret for attempting to cut the business department last year.

“[I] Woke up and realized what a horrible decision I’ve made,” said Fay.

Although, even with the later reinstating of the business department, many feel that the damage has already been done.

Last school year, Rangeview had four teachers teaching business (Mr. Thomas, Ms. Count, Ms. Miller, and Mr. Gerard) and, according to Gerard, offered 12 business courses.

“All together there were 12 sections of courses offered with them from ranging from Intro to PC/Web Design to Accounting/Marketing and FBLA,” said Gerard.

This wide range of classes and staff seems too good to be true when compared to Rangeview’s business department today – only offering intro to business and accounting. Mr. Newman – first-year teacher at Rangeview and the only business teacher – expressed that, while the department has shrunk in numbers, it is getting stronger every day.

“I would honestly say that we’re probably not as strong as we were last year simply because, if you look at the numbers of student participating currently and the number of students that participated last year and the faculty that were full time engaged with the curriculum within business the scope of the program has decreased,” Newman explained. “It’s a constant state of improvement…. As a department of one, we’re doing as well as we can, and I’m looking forward to expanding the department.”

A poster saying, “WANTED: Tomorrows Business Leaders” hangs in an empty hallway next to the former DECA Business Center. DECA has been cut this school year. (Hannah Metzger)

Corral, having been involved with business since her freshman year and being a state officer in FBLA, described this year’s business department as “starting from scratch.”

With the current financial crisis looming over APS, Fay has expressed his desire to keep Rangeview’s business department intact, claiming that he has not “interested in cutting the business department.”

However, this has not appeased the fear of many business members.

“Of course I’m concerned [for the future of the business department],” said Corral. “Last year, we put on a hard fight to keep the business program here, but this time around, under the circumstances, I’m sure it won’t be difficult finally cutting it. It sucks thinking that a program we care so much about… a program which opens doors for students can very well and might very well be taken away from us for good.”

While Newman does have high ambitions for expanding the business department in the coming years, he also cannot deny the fearful and shaky future of every department in APS.

“I think it would be short-sighted and well pretty much lying to you if I said ‘no, I was not concerned,’” said Newman. “I think a lot of departments are concerned about this and it’s not just the business department, it’s not any department individually…. We do have active conversations going about expanding the program and adding additional classes, potentially even next year, but… the financial crisis has put a lot of those conversations on hold. So, a lot of the goals that we had may not be achievable as quickly as we had originally hoped but we still have high hopes for the future of the program.”

However, not everyone is as optimistic as Newman. Having experienced the business curriculum and staffing cuts first hand last year, Gerard fears that this budget crisis could potentially mean the end of RHS business.

“I, unfortunately feel that the Business Department and courses related to the department will be eliminated,” explained Gerard. “With necessary cuts coming and the already limited options in the department, its offerings would be good candidates for elimination to allow for others to continue.”

A partial list of FBLA state qualifiers posted on Rangeview’s website. While the span of business courses offered at Rangeview has decreased, FBLA remains strong. (Hannah Metzger)

Although the student participation and curriculum offered has decreased since last year, it is clear that business is still something RHS student body is deeply passionate about. The success of the department can be seen alone in the success of FBLA.

In the most recent FBLA district competition, Rangeview had 15 students place in the top three for their events and four students, including Corral, were sent “straight to state.” (To see specific student placements and events, visit http://rangeview.aurorak12.org/)

When the shocking news was announced last year that the business department would be cut, many students and staff members felt heartbreak and isolation.

“I felt I had no support system from my school,” explained Corral. “It was difficult comprehending how such an important program was being taken away from us. It was upsetting how no one had ever mentioned this change to the student body… it was almost as if nobody cared what we thought.”

Gerard explained that his first reaction to the news was fear for his own job security, then fear for his colleagues who exclusively taught business courses, and, finally, sorrow for the student body.

“…My third thought was how unfair it was to the students and how removing the option to experience those courses might influence their opportunity to possibly find or eliminate career paths that are available,” said Gerard.

While no one can yet predict what will happen to Rangeview’s business department in the upcoming years, it is clear that the students and staff of RHS will continue to fight on. Even with the department’s decreased size, the passion and talent of all business members has not wavered, said many students and staff interviewed.

With the future of all of APS uncertain with a $31 million budget deficit looming, Newman hopes that the students will stand up for what they believe in if they want to make an impact on their own education.

“Utilize their voice,” Newman explains. “Empower themselves and advocate for those things that they believe are worth pursuing. If they believe that photography is worthwhile, if they think the business department is worthwhile, if they think STEM is worthwhile, if they think journalism is worthwhile, they need to stand up and speak out because, during this time, the decisions are not easy and their voice carries more weight than they could imagine.”