Major Cuts in Store for Atwater Schools

February 13, 2009 10:06:05 PM PST
The Atwater Elementary School District is being forced to consider cutting its music program -- and dozens of teaching positions because of the state budget deficit. The Atwater Elementary School District Superintendent and Board President say the state has put them in a terrible position.A.E.S.D. School Board President John Hall said, "We are facing a possible layoff of many, many teachers, many classified, many administrators. We are in a huge budget shortfall, not of our own making. Last year we cut one and a half million dollars. This year we're looking at substantially more than that."

The district is now looking for ways to trim about two and a half million dollars from its budget. This week the administrative team pledged to take a three percent pay cut for the school year, but that won't be nearly enough to close the gap. That's why the board is also considering eliminating its class-size reduction program, which would leave 35 teachers without jobs. And, for the second year in a row, the music program is once again on the potential chopping block.

Raymond Cox said, "We served between two and 300 students this year with only two teachers at eight different schools."

Music Teacher Raymond Cox says the program benefits students from all backgrounds and abilities and impacts the community through several public performances each year. And he argues its one of the most affordable programs available.

Cox said, "Where do you get that type of program that makes a difference in so many kids lives for only two teacher salaries?"

Board President John Hall says he has a child in the music program and would hate to see it go, but the state has left the district with few options.

"There's going to be stuff we're not able to offer. Our class sizes are going to grow, our children deserve better, but apparently that's the state of our nation and our state," said Hall.

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