Big Changes Coming to Hazleton Area School District Next Year

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HAZLE TOWNSHIP -- Emotions were high at the Hazleton Area School Board's special meeting as the board was set to make some big changes for the next school year.

“When does school start?” asked one parent. “So you have what, two months for all these families are going to have to change their entire lifestyle to figure out a way to make this work.”

In an attempt to close a deficit in the district’s roughly $143 million spending plan, the board voted to have students in school for only four days a week for the months of December, January, and February.

The board also voted to cut all day kindergarten to half days.

“It's sad for the kids because they come in and in three hours get so much crammed down their throats, they don't know what to do with it. They don't really learn,” said parent LeeAnn Matteo.

“Full-day kindergarten boosts student achievement. Full-day kindergarten improves social and emotional skills,” said another parent.

The board also eliminated more than 30 positions; most of those are retirements that won't be replaced.

It furloughed some staff and consolidated seventh and eighth grade basketball from two teams into one team per gender.

Even with these cuts, the district is still facing a nearly $3 million shortfall.

“We don't have anywhere to go. Right now with all the things we have for tonight, we're still about $2.6 million in the hole,” said board president Clarence John.

The board says more furloughs are expected in the future.

The district's budget must be approved by June 30.

8 comments

  • just sayin

    If they’re in the red, why aren’t we talking salary and benefit reductions? How about higher insurance copayments? $143 million is a lot of money! Why do they always avoid the obvious. Why are the school districts immune to basic common sense. The minute a business starts loosing money, the wage and benefit cuts start. No, just keep raising property taxes! Let the people who have already been hit with benefit reductions from their employers pay to keep the school district’s premium benefits! I don’t know of anyone who works in the private sector who didn’t take a hit on their benefits. Why are the schools immune when the people paying paying the tab are not! This has to change! I can see if we were the world leaders in education but we are not. We have the most expensive education system in the world and are failing miserable!

  • vforba

    So why then when schools did half day kindergarten for decades and kids learned more and had better test scores back 30yrs ago. Research shows that all this early learning does nothing at the end of the day. Because eventually kids will learn and will catch up. Kids who have less time with actual classroom work at such a young age do better than kids who have more academics shoved down their throats at such a young age.

  • nasca7

    School will be in session only 4 days out of 5 from December through February. Will the teachers have to report on the fifth day in which case the schools must be maintained anyway? Or will they be given a five day paycheck for four days of work?

  • Bill

    I’m not sure how it is now…but a few years ago we lived in Lewisburg, PA…my son attended half day kindergarten as that was how kindergarten was set up there. There were no detrimental effects on his education for only attending a half day kindergarten. The quality of the half day kindergarten there at Kelly Elementary was outstanding. At that time I had three older children enrolled in the Lewisburg school district. We then relocated to NE PA and while I will not name the district in which we now reside and where my children attended school…I will say that for the first three to four months we were in the district and into the new school district…my children were bored in school here because the curriculum was so far behind. So I believe that parents should be considering the quality of their children’s educational programs versus the number of days or hours they are in school. And if the school/educational system is not to one’s liking…consider home schooling or online school. There are other options. Yes, they would require parents to make adjustments to their schedules…but then again, schools were not set up to be daycare centers or babysitting services.

    • Ronald

      Bill, you make valid points. However not every parent can make adjustments to their schedules. If the parents work, then its also a decision for the employer as well. If the employer nixes the adjustment, then it puts the parent between a rock and hard place.

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