The Panther Valley School Board on Thursday followed through on its move to cut six educational jobs, leaving some teachers in tears and drawing expressions of disgust from others.
The votes were consistently 6-1, with school Director David Hiles absent and Irene Genther opposed. School directors Michelle Markovich, Anthony DeMarco, Richard Zabroski, Bill Hunsicker, Roy Angst, Koreen Nalesnik and board President Jeff Markovich all voted in favor of the cuts to the high school, middle school and elementary school libraries, and to the elementary school technology class.
All board members who attended the meeting voted in favor of cuts to the Title 1 services at the elementary school, described as a "redesign."
The cuts were couched as motions to "alter the delivery of instruction."
Asked by Genther to explain the difference from original motions on the Feb. 28 board meeting agenda, Superintendent Rosemary Porembo said there are three reasons, according to school code, to eliminate educational positions: altering education, decreased enrollment and condensing schools.
"We're changing the way we are delivering the instruction," she said.
Instead of having one teacher dedicated to teaching technology, the task will fall to many teachers. The same explanation applies to the librarians, she said.
On the Feb. 28 agenda, the motions were described as cuts to the library and technology programs.
At the beginning of the meeting, Terry Kokinda and Chris Smith spoke to the board in an effort to persuade members to avoid the cuts. Kokinda suggested cutting administrative jobs. Smith, the technology coordinator for the Salisbury School District, warned the board that students need technology education to be able to compete in a tech-oriented world.
The school board on Feb. 28 made the proposed cuts public, and were met by heated opposition from teachers and parents.
The cuts, Porembo explained then, were necessary to close a $1.8 million budget gap, and to keep the school district going in the future. The cuts three librarians, two Title I teachers, and one elementary technology teacher would save the district about $460,000.
The district has been dipping into its fund balance for several years to balance its annual budget without steep tax hikes. That balance is expected to be down to $1.5 million by the end of 2014, and in the red after that, Porembo said.
Board members agreed to table the cuts until the March 28 meeting to allow teachers time to present alternatives.
Porembo and board members warned the education cuts are just the first round. Jeff Markovich vowed to eliminate the district's JROTC program, and suggested busing also be ended.