200 Reading School District staff members let go

Final budget includes a tax increase and closes five schools

200 Reading staff members let go

READING, Pa. - More than 200 staff members, including a hundred teachers in the Reading School District are now officially out of a job.

The district approved a final budget Wednesday night that also closes five schools and includes a tax increase.

For months the Reading School board has been grappling with the budget to try and cover a $40 million deficit and they did it with a 5 to 4 vote Wednesday night. But parents and teachers said students will be affected this fall.

School board president Yvonne Stroman has said their children deserve the best but the president of the teachers union questions that statement after the passage of this $220 million budget.

"And $18 million cut in state funding and a cut of that many teachers and assistants you're not going to have the same quality of education that you had this year," said Bryan Sanguinito, President of the Reading Education Association.

He said with five fewer schools and the same amount of students overcrowding will be an issue and parents agree.

"That's my biggest concern the overcrowding the safety issues," said Malissa Karner, who has two daughters in the Reading School District.

School board member, Frank Denbowski, was concerned about closing Thomas Ford Elementary.

"I don't believe that small savings can be justified," said Denbowski.

"But I'd like to ask what your proposal would be," said James Washington.

Isamac Torres Figueroa reminded her colleagues that the time to discuss the budget has passed.

"These are conversations we should have been having," said Torres Figueroa.

The teacher union president said that discussion is an indicator of the overall problems with the budget process.

"The integrity of the process, you heard it tonight the school board where you have four people who voted no to adopting this final budget because they still had questions," said Sanguinito.

The tax for property owners will be 16.92 mills an increase of 2.8%.

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