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Education

Christina School Board approves plan for nearly $10 million in staff, program cuts

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Delaware Public Media
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Christina School District could see close to $10 million in cuts to teachers and programs if its June referendum fails.

The Christina School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to direct district administration to pursue cuts to teaching staff and programs totalling roughly $9.7 million in local operating expenses. Programs on the list include the Chinese immersion program, elementary instrumental music and the Montessori program. The cuts would also affect athletics, paraprofessionals and a number of administrative openings.

Board members said the cuts are needed to deal with the $10-million budget deficit for next Fiscal Year that was forecast in December. 

Board member Claire O’Neal tried unsuccessfully to push an amendment that would have spared elementary music and strings programs from the latest round of planned cuts— which she emphasized will not be necessary if the upcoming referendum passes. 

“These cuts that we’re voting on tonight are a plan,” she said. “And this plan need only be a bad memory if everybody comes out and votes for the referendum on June 9. But we have to have a plan to go forward, because if we go forward, and people don’t follow through on their obligation to vote on the referendum, then it’s our fiduciary duty to make ends meet. ”

Board President Meredith Griffin, Jr. noted last year’s operating referendum failed and cost the district more than 60 teaching positions

“Last year it was temporary contracts. This year it’s —  where we are now,” he said. “If we keep doing this … it’s not just going to be the elimination of music… but it’s going to be, look how large the class sizes are, look at what’s happened to building-level budgets and the discretionary spending that may go on there, look at not being able to get updated curriculum.”

Griffin also called the referendum system “antiquated.” He said the district’s situation is to be expected under a system in which it must ask residents to vote to raise their own taxes. 

Christina says a successful referendum would cost a taxpayer with an average home in the district “less than a dollar a day to be phased in over three years.”

The district needed to vote on the reduction in force before knowing the outcome of the referendum because teachers affected by cuts must be notified by May 15.

 

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