Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 4

The Morning Call Archives

Copyright © 2010 The Morning Call

ID: 4579625
Publication Date: April 23, 2010
Day: Friday
Page: A1
Edition: FIFTH
Section: News
Type: Local
Dateline:
Column:
Length: long

Byline: By Christopher Baxter and Arlene Martinez OF THE


MORNING CALL

Headline: Crowd hammers board on plan **Almost 800 pack high


school, many protesting end of middle school sports, teacher layoffs.
**EASTON SCHOOL BUDGET CUTS

Nick Raso was five years old when he began playing football, following
in the footsteps of his older brother. Now an eighth-grader in the Easton
Area School District, Raso wants his younger brother, who is in second
grade, to have the same opportunity.

"Thanks to my coaches, I am driven to graduate as a student-athlete,"


Raso said, criticizing the district's proposed budget that would cut middle
school sports. "Without sports I'd either come home and hang out or just
sit there and play video games."

A capacity Red Rover crowd of almost 800 people packed the high school
auditorium Thursday, mostly in protest of a draft budget that would
eliminate most middle school sports, decimate the technology department
and drop dozens of teaching jobs.

The scene of anger mixed with school pride prompted by Easton's


proposed $8.7 million in cuts is likely one to repeat itself throughout
Pennsylvania and the nation, as school districts continue to struggle with
the downturn in the economy.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said this month that some
forecasts estimate between 100,000 and 300,000 education jobs may be at
risk this year. In Easton, 85 positions are on the chopping block under
next year's proposed budget.

"It's too bad the citizens of Easton can't vote on this budget," said Susan
Eagle, whose grandson is in third grade and who urged all of the district's
employees to accept a wage freeze. "Because I can guarantee you, if we
could, we'd defeat it."

Specifically, the district plans to eliminate 37 middle and high school


teaching positions in English, math, science, history, art, music, business
education, computers, study skills and Latin. Cuts at that level also
include two literacy coaches.

"It has been my honor and privilege" to have taught for so long, said
Susan Shelosky, who's taught Latin at the Easton Area Middle School for
35 years. "And I hope to be in my classroom in the fall…Latin is alive and
well and kicking."

District officials also plan to outsource Advanced Placement courses to


Northampton Community College. Junior Andrew Trinker, 17, said only
reluctantly would he take his AP courses next year at NCC.

"Go into any classroom, look on the wall, and you'll see a poster that says,
"Expanding Easton's excellence,"' Trinker said. "This budget plan is doing
the exact opposite."

In the district's elementary schools, the district plans to eliminate seven


general teachers, seven intervention teachers for struggling students and
seven literacy coaches. The proposal also eliminates full-day kindergarten
at Cheston Elementary.

Additionally, the proposed budget slashes 11 of the district's 13


technology coordinators who work to integrate computers, iPods and
other technology into the classroom. The coordinators also run many of
the district's in-service events for teachers.

A coordinator at Paxinosa Elementary, Robin Hudak is on the brink of


joining the unemployment lines. She said cuts to her department will
reverse gains made in the school district during the past decade.

"We have kindergartners using laptops…and other students using


technology to advance their math," Hudak said. "I hope they see how
important technology is for the students."

The budget also cuts four crisis counselors, three maintenance and
custodial positions, three attendance secretaries and one administrator,
school-to-career coordinator, psychology secretary, equipment manager
and middle school athletic trainer.

At a rally before the board meeting, about 100 teachers and students stood
against the district's cuts. Michael Crossey, vice president of the
Pennsylvania State Education Association, said the administration was
trying to "break the union."

School board President Patricia Fisher opened the meeting by banning the
audience's dozens of signs, sporting slogans, such as, "Who makes cuts
when they have $20 million in the bank," a reference to the district's
reserve fund, and "If you can read this, thank a teacher."

The crowd answered Fisher's request with jeers and chants.

Minutes later, teachers union President Kevin Deely chastised the school
board, saying they cared more about numbers than the students, teachers
and community members in the audience.

"If I was a parent in this district," Deely said, "I'd consider moving.

The crowd erupted into cheers; Fisher waved her hand and mouthed,
"Then go."

The administration has said it can offer the same level of education and
opportunities for students despite the cuts. Community members are
skeptical, but some are willing to give the administration a chance if it
means a lower tax increase next year.

"Since when is it the taxpayer's responsibility to keep kids off the streets?"
said Mary Jane Long, president of the Palmer Area AARP Chapter 2144,
which lobbied for a low tax hike. "Would we like a zero percent increase?
Yes. But that's not realistic."

Under the proposed $131.49 million budget approved last week, the tax
rate for Northampton County residents would rise to 52.325 mills, a 2.35
percent increase. At that rate, an owner of a home assessed at $50,000
would pay $2,616, a $60 increase.

The tax rate for Riegelsville residents in Bucks County would be 162.384
mills, a 3.46 percent increase. At that rate and based on last year's state-
adjusted millage rate, the owner of a home assessed at $20,000 would pay
$3,247, a $108 increase.

christopher.baxter@mcall.com
610-778-2283

Похожие интересы