READING, Pa. - Teachers in the Reading School District are gearing up for the new year.
While the district copes with deep cuts in staffing and budget, there is some good news. The school board in May was initially looking to cut 364 jobs, including 170 teaching positions. Since then, the district decided to cut 110 teaching positions. The changes were in wake of the district's $40 million budget deficit.
"We can't let the events of last year happen again this year," said Bryan Sanguinito, president of Reading Education Association.
Sanguinito said he spent his summer vacation working closely with the school district to save dozens of teaching jobs. Through the REA's efforts with the district, 40 of 110 furloughed teachers got their jobs back.
On Monday, all of the district's teachers gathered at Reading High School for the district's opening ceremony.
"I suspect that everyone is excited for the 2012-2013 school year. If you agree with me, please give yourself a proper applause," said Yvonne Stroman, Reading School Board member.
"When you have a large percent of your students not performing, I question how great we really are," said Carlinda Purcell, superintendent. who took the reins in July.
There is still a lot of work needed to change the downward spiral the district was heading into, Purcell said.
Pre-kindergarten was also on the chopping block for this school year. The program did not get the ax after all, Purcell said, after the district received $3.7 million from the state to help balance the budget.
The REA is still working to get more teachers their jobs back.
"I know it was their intent that if ever they could find a way to bring back programs, that they would," said Purcell.
"We still have 70 teachers who are still struggling to make ends meet," said Sanguinito.
The school district's challenges have been painful for many, said Purcell, but the quality of education students will be receiving this year will not be in jeopardy.
"We want to make it better. We will not deal with the status quo. The status quo days are over," said Purcell.
Allentown, PA 18102