Inside Your Town

Reading School Board weighs budget cuts options

Reading school board

READING, Pa. - Donna Broad, a teacher at 10th and Green Elementary, sat in the third floor boardroom of the Reading School District administration building waiting to hear if the proposed elimination of the Pre-Kindergarten program would remain the same.

The Reading School District Board of Directors reconvened Tuesday night to continue a budget workshop that began last week.

The workshop last week covered various items under consideration to help pare down the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

This week an outline was supplied for review of the items cut from the budget as well as items still under evaluation. It was only the cut items, however, that were scrutinized by members as the board attempted to pan out the logistics of each cut.

A majority of the meeting was spent discussing the elimination of pre-kindergarten which would save the district $1,374, 346. This, paired with a cut of 10 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staffers for $831,101 in non-title funds would allow for other items such as transportation of grades K-5 and the guidance division, to remain funded.

Board Member Karen McCree brought to the attention of the board president, Pierre Cooper and superintendent Dr. Carlinda Purcell that since the discussions of last week's meeting, many faculty members of the School District, including Pre-K teacher Donna Broad, didn't find out about the possible cuts to their departments from the district but instead by word of mouth or what they saw posted online.

This elimination of Pre-K and the 10 FTE's also allows the music department to keep on more staffers, many of who were present at tonight's meeting. While the music department wasn't discussed in depth as it was during last week's workshop, the department attended to show their solidarity for the arts programs in the district as well as to let the board know that they weren't going anywhere.

Two other items highly debated were the reduction of both assistant principals and employees in clerical positions from 12 month to 10-month employees. The board stated that the individuals would not necessarily have July and August off, but instead the days would be scattered throughout the year. With this proposed cut, the board was confused as to how vacation days would be taken into account as well as how substitutes would be used in the administrative aspect.

The budget for the next fiscal year remained at $211,258,214, but after a meeting this morning, the proposed cut in staffers could jump from 56 to 79 fewer positions.

The general public will have the opportunity to speak their mind about the proposed budget and other topics tomorrow at the school district's General Board Meeting. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Reading High School in the L.G.I. room.

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