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.