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Parents lash out at proposed teacher cuts in Reading

By Dwayne Parker, Reporter, DParker@wfmz.com
Published On: May 18 2012 05:22:38 AM CDT
Updated On: May 18 2012 04:54:28 PM CDT

A budget shortfall in Reading has parents reacting to possible cuts to teachers

READING, Pa. -

Hundreds of parents turned out to Reading High School, Thursday night, to see their kids shine during a music concert.

But for many it was hard to concentrate.

They were visibly upset that the Reading School District is considering laying off 170 teaching positions.

Mentie Leija, a parent, was in tears as she expressed her frustration.

"Just stop it. Just stop it, just stop it, just stop cutting in our schools," said Leija.

Officials said teacher cuts will save the district $11 million.

But the proposal left some parents irate.

"And then what's going to happen? And then these kids, for some of these kids these teachers are mentors," said Leija.

"It's not fair. We need the teachers to teach all these kids," said Vicky Rodriguez. "There are a lot of kids that need help."

District officials said they have studied every possible option to close the $40 million deficit for the 2012-2013 school year.

Cutting the teaching positions is only one part of a larger package. The package plan includes furloughs, closing the district's 6th grade magnet schools, and closing Thomas Ford Elementary, and eliminating pre-kindergarten since it is not required by the state, district officials said.

The package could bring the overall deficit down to about $17.4 million, but that still means more cuts are expected.

"We don't want anyone to lose their jobs, not one. But, given the crisis we're in, we have to make drastic cuts," said Robert Heebner, school board vice president.

Lori Lamos, a mother as well a teacher's aide at 13th & Union Elementary School, said she is against the proposal.

"It's going to put the children in jeopardy. The schools are already crowded, and I don't think cutting teachers is the option. There should be other ways that we can do this," said Lamos.

"Currently, with the situation we're in, we have to cut to the bone, and there are just some things we're going to have to change," said Heebner.

The school board is scheduled to vote next Wednesday on whether their proposed cuts will be submitted to the state. Officials said a final budget must be passed by June 30.