Hundreds express their views on school spending to Pasco School Board
Expectations were fairly low for Pasco County's first School Board budget town hall meeting on Wednesday, after last year's events drew crowds of dozens.
This time out, thanks to organizing in schools and on Facebook, about 500 students, parents and district employees packed the Seven Springs Middle School cafeteria to let board member Cynthia Armstrong know their thoughts about how money gets spent in the schools.
A huge contingent came in band and drama t-shirts, carrying We (heart) arts signs and urging the district to maintain art programs.
"If you are considering cutting those areas, you are not just cutting those areas, you are cutting student academic achievement," parent John Parris of Odessa said, listing a variety of studies linking arts education to improved classroom performance.
People made several recommendations, ranging from selling unused property to furloughing employees. They had a mix of frustration and fear at what the future holds for their children and their jobs. Richey Elementary art teacher Richard Doskoez even offered to work a year for free, if the district would cover his health and retirement benefits.
Board member Cynthia Armstrong, who hosted the event, said it was critical to hear from the public as the board begins setting spending (and cutting) priorities: "We want to make the best decisions in the coming months. We want to make them with your help."
Another town hall meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. tonight at Fivay High School. See the full story here. Read on for the list of areas the district is examining for cuts under consideration that were presented on Wednesday. No decisions have been reached.
- Eliminate all administrators, $25.7 million
- Eliminate middle school sports, $346,416
- Eliminate high school sports, $1.32 million
- Eliminate all music programs, $5.8 million
- Eliminate band supplements and uniforms, $148,083
- Eliminate all art programs, $4.7 million
- Four-day school week, $3.2 million
- Abandon full class size compliance, $9 million
- Eliminate media specialists, $4.2 million
- Eliminate technology specialists, $3.4 million
- Eliminate guidance counselors, $7.5 million
- Eliminate literacy coaches, $2.5 million
- Eliminate student achievement coaches, $1.7 million
- Eliminate school nurses, $1.7 million
- Eliminate school psychiatrists, $2.2 million
- Eliminate school social workers, $1.6 million
- Eliminate drivers education, $430,000
- Eliminate school behavior specialists, $2.9 million