District's Health Argued Officials Disagree on Schools Plans

Article excerpt

The Maplewood-Richmond Heights School District could get out of financial difficulty in three years without laying off teachers, Vito Maniaci, a teachers representative, testified Thursday in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

And a group of parents has been discussing with business leaders the possibility of corporate donations to help finance teachers and programs in the district, said Paul Steingruby, a parent and councilman in Maplewood.

But school officials say the proposals do not go far enough, fast enough. Richard Ulrich, an attorney for the district, said that the district, which educates 1,200 children, is in dire financial straits. "The district has to get its financial house in shape," he said. "The only realistic way is to tell people they no longer have jobs." The comments were made during the first day of a hearing before St. Louis County Associate Circuit Judge Patrick Clifford. The Maplewood-Richmond Heights Education Association, an affiliate of the Missouri National Education Association, brought the suit on behalf of its members. The Missouri State Teachers Association has joined the suit. The hearing will resume this morning. Teachers have sued to try to block the layoffs of 28 teachers. The layoffs take effect a week from Monday. That's between a third and a fourth of the teachers in the district. In addition, six full-time and six part-time employees' jobs will be eliminated. School officials ordered the layoffs and cuts in programs several weeks ago to try to offset a projected deficit of $1.2 million this year. Even with the cuts, the district will finish the year a little more than $660,000 in the red. …