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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Budget cuts eliminate German program, squash, sailing, 9 staff positions; U-High students stricken with emotions

On+May+6%2C+Director+of+Schools+Tori+Jueds+sent+out+an+email+to+the+community+announcing+cuts+that+will+eliminate+sports+teams%2C+an+academic+program+and+staff+positions.+Many+students+were+disappointed+and+some+were+confused.
Midway Staff
On May 6, Director of Schools Tori Jueds sent out an email to the community announcing cuts that will eliminate sports teams, an academic program and staff positions. Many students were disappointed and some were confused.

Facing financial challenges, Laboratory Schools administration announced budget cuts that will eliminate sports teams, an academic program and staff positions. The cuts were announced in an email on the afternoon of May 6 from Director of Schools Tori Jueds. 

Two U-High sports teams — sailing and squash — will be cut in the administration’s new financial plan, and the German language program will be phased out by 2028. 

Aside from the U-High changes, sixth grade sports teams were eliminated beginning next year, and middle school team sports will have participation caps with only two girls teams and two boys teams. 

A separate email to Lab employees laid out that nine staff positions will be cut, four of which are from the libraries.

In an email to the Lab community, Ms. Jueds wrote that university leaders devised a four-year recovery plan in which Lab is participating, and Lab’s budget guidelines over the next fiscal year reflect the institution’s philosophy that all units should share in its financial recovery.

“Consequently, we have had to make some very difficult decisions,” she wrote. 

On the afternoon of May 7, Director of Athletics Matt Manley emailed the community with further explanations and opportunities for the cut sports to attain club status for the coming school year.  

For the students who are involved in academic and athletic programs that will be cut, reactions were passionate. Many were disappointed in the decision, while some were baffled.

Katharine Christensen, a junior, has taken German at Lab since third grade. Over the years, she said the program has grown to mean a lot to her. Katharine emphasized her disappointment for the future U-High students who won’t be offered the program.

“I think it’s really disappointing and unfair to students that have taken German and want to take German can no longer,” Katharine said. “I’m honestly just disappointed.”

Victoria Syverson, a ninth grader who takes German, said that although she is saddened by the choice, she understands it.

“I wouldn’t say I’m entirely surprised,” Victoria said, “because I definitely can tell there’s a lack of people participating in the program, even though I think it’s really good and that the teachers are very good.”

Ilana Umanskiy, a junior on the sailing team, felt blindsided by this announcement. She wishes that the administration had spoken to the sailing team before deciding to cut the sport.

“I want them to know that you can’t make decisions like that without compromise or at least letting us know,” Ilana said. “Like, you can’t let our entire school know at the same time as us, ’cause it’s going to affect a lot of kids.”

Sophomore Cruise Lickerman, another sailing team member, said the decision doesn’t account for all the hard work and achievements of the sailing team. 

“We’re really disappointed that sailing is being canceled. We put in a lot of work and effort, and we’ve been a very successful sports team,” Cruise said. “And so just to see the administration throwing that all away … is just really disappointing for us.”

Asher Dennis, a sophomore squash player, feels there are alternatives to cutting these teams. Specifically, he thinks there were many ways to limit costs within the squash team. 

“Like, we don’t need two coaches. We don’t need to practice where we do and pay for that. We could do it on university courts,” Asher said. “It’s just a shock, right?”

Other cuts that will be made under this plan include:

  • Faculty summer pay for service on hiring committees
  • Print copies of Lab Life alumni magazine
  • New faculty extra service positions
View Comments (7)
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About the Contributors
Jaya Alenghat
Jaya Alenghat, City Life Editor
Jaya Alenghat is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as an assistant editor. She began journalism in the 2022-23 school year as a sophomore. Her favorite story she has written is “In finding community, English teacher provides comfort for Latinx students.” Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing tennis, reading and spending time with friends and family. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, sports news story: excellent 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Certificate of merit, sports features, “Muslim student athletes navigate fasting during Ramadan while maintaining physical endurance” 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Excellent, news writing
Chloe Alexander
Chloe Alexander, Arts Editor
Chloë Alexander is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as the arts editor. She joined the journalism family in the 2021-22 school year as a ninth grader and previously served as an assistant editor. Chloë enjoys journalism because it allows her to create a space for Lab students to be represented through writing. Her favorite story that she has written is “‘SOS’ showcases a wide range of styles and themes.” Outside of working on the Midway, she is a Maroon Key, plays the piano and enjoys reading. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Honorable mention, feature writing 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, news editing, headline and current events 2023 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, special coverage: (with Clare O’Connor, Amy Ren and William Tan), superior 2022 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Briefs writing, first place (with Louis Auxenfans, Joaquin Figueroa, Chloe Ma, Amy Ren, Katie Sasamoto-Kurisu), Vol. 98, Issue 8 (March 10, 2022), Page 3
Clare McRoberts
Clare McRoberts, Features Editor
Clare McRoberts is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as Features Editor. She began in the 2021-22 school year when she was a ninth grader. Other than writing for the Midway, she enjoys running, cooking, reading and painting. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, news story, superior 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, opinion piece or column: superior 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, special coverage: (with Audrey Park and Sahana Unni) superior 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, broadcast feature: excellent 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Certificate of merit, personal opinion: off-campus issues, “It’s time to end legacy admissions” 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, feature writing

Comments (7)

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  • F

    Former StudentMay 13, 2024 at 11:28 am

    School is going down the drain. It was already in decline when I left, such a shame. The administrators were always completely incompetent…

    Reply
  • C

    Confused and sarcasticMay 9, 2024 at 4:56 am

    Yeah I mean when you only charge 45k a year you’re gonna have to tighten your purse strings a bit

    Reply
  • L

    Lucy GrayMay 8, 2024 at 10:12 pm

    As a former Lab employee and parent of a student who participated in the German program, I am sorry to see these changes.

    Reply
  • L

    Laura and Mike AllenMay 8, 2024 at 9:04 pm

    The loss of the German program is very short-sighted. We saw it as the strongest language program at Lab and one of the main draws for us to choose Lab. The program kept our daughter engaged from 3rd through 12th grade. Our daughter was very fortunate to have experienced such a well-developed and rounded cirriculum and the quality and care of such devoted teachers, leading her to continue studying the language in college. We am saddened the “new” Lab is making such a poor decision. For if Lab continues to follow other schools in phasing out the programming that gave Lab its special appeal and reputation, what then will set Lab apart other than for its high cost of tuition?

    Reply
  • C

    Concerned StaffMay 8, 2024 at 5:10 pm

    Let’s cut German, let’s cut support staff, let’s cut student athletics, and let’s prevent new extra service positions allowing teachers to engage with students in new and innovative ways, but let’s absolutely not cut any actual administration positions, because it would be unfair to give them extra work.

    How many new administrators has Lab hired since the start of the pandemic? And how many “Assistant Directors” have we added in just the last two years? It definitely makes sense that Lab is currently hiring for a (brand new position) second Assistant Athletics Director while simultaneously cutting the MS program. It may “bring out staffing back to pre pandemic levels” according to Matt Manley, but that used to be a secretary position, and if the justification is that the previous secretary is similar enough to this new Assistant AD role – and therefore justified – then how do you justify cutting multiple department secretaries? Those department secretaries were pre pandemic.

    Reply
    • C

      class of 2020May 8, 2024 at 10:13 pm

      exactly. there are so many extra admin positions that are not needed, yet they cut one of their most unique programs. this is unbelievable.

      Although I was not a german student at lab, two of my academic advisors were german teachers, and were incredibly devoted. Additionally, many times, german courses were a place where students could learn more about the holocaust, a topic not discussed much at Lab.

      Reply
  • S

    Susan H. ShapiroMay 8, 2024 at 11:10 am

    The loss of the German program is a tragedy. The loss of nine staff positions is unconscionable. Eliminating 6th grade sports is short-sighted and violates the intent of the Athletics Council to build an age appropriate and meaningful athletic experience for middle schoolers. I am shocked and deeply disappointed.

    Reply