SAINT CLAIR—The Saint Clair Area Elementary and Middle School serves kids from kindergarten through 8th grade.
Wednesday night the school board adopted a 10 million dollar budget, furloughed a dozen teachers and suspended several special programs.
This year, school officials struggled with a budget shortfall of about a million dollars.
At a packed school board meeting, they made some cuts.
As part of the budget, the board approved a tax hike, which would mean 34 dollars more per year for the average Saint Clair homeowner.
Board members also decided to suspend programs including art, library, health, foreign language and family and consumer science and to furlough 12 teachers.
“I don’t like it because all the teachers that we had, they aren’t going to be there so all the kids that are after us, because we’re leaving, all the kids that are after us, aren’t going to have like the same things that we had,” said Daliah Hall Hiester of Saint Clair, who just graduated from eighth grade in the school.
“They won’t be able to learn the same things that we learn and they’ll have like different teachers than we did,” said Paige Mason, another student.
There are other changes in the district, too.
Next fall, there will be half day kindergarten only, no more full day.
Class sizes will be bigger, as well, between 30 and 35 students, according to school officials. They blame declining enrollment and the teacher furloughs.
Some in the community said the changes may be tough to swallow, but they needed to be made.
It’s worth it, I mean look at the school, the teachers, it’s worth it in the long run. I’m just happy that the school is the way it is, the teachers, the school board members and the small town community. We have to pay a little bit more, that’s ok,” said Heather Cappel, whose son will attend kindergarten at the school next year.
Maureen McDonald has 4 children.
Her husband is a school board member and she said it is important for people to remember, this situation is not the board’s fault.
“I think they did the right thing by going half-day kindergarten even though a lot or parents didn’t agree with it and the number of teachers that they have decided to hold onto is a whole lot better than what the original number was so. I know it was a hard decision by all of them and nobody wanted it, but it’s just something that has to be done,” she said.
Staff at the school have agreed to a pay freeze for next year.
School officials are urging people in the community to write letters to state legislators and the Governor asking for more financial support for Saint Clair Area Elementary/Middle School.
Board members urged people in the community to write letters to state lawmakers and the Governor, urging them to better support and reimburse schools like Saint Clair Area Elementary/Middle School.