Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hazelwood Schools Cut Music, Gym Teachers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hazelwood Schools Cut Music, Gym Teachers

Article excerpt

Budget cuts planned for 2016-17 in Hazelwood schools will eliminate band and orchestra in elementary school during the school day and cut time in gym class in half for most of those schools as well, union leaders say.

The Hazelwood School Board has approved the plan in response to a projected $12.7 million budget deficit for the 2016-17 school year. When comparing 2014-15 revenue raised from property taxes, there was $15.7 million less than what was collected in 2008-09, which is one reason for the shortfall, district officials say.

A news release also pointed to teacher and staff raises over the last several years as also contributing to the shortfall.

The release detailed cuts, including 13 physical education teachers at elementary and high schools and four band/orchestra positions at elementary schools, although the union had posted information earlier saying there were as many as 28 positions eliminated in those areas. Custodial staff will be reduced by 25 percent.

The board approved the plan on Feb. 2 as part of a consent agenda item. It was done without input from group leaders or community members, said Diane Livingston, president of the Hazelwood National Education Association, the teachers' union.

"HNEA is mad as hell!" union leaders posted on their Facebook page Monday night.

District officials met with groups of staff on Monday and Tuesday. The district has more than 2,400 employees, including 1,700 teachers.

"Of course, people are concerned and we are trying to do our best to address those concerns," district spokeswoman Kimberly McKenzie said. "We're trying our best to help them find placement in our district or in another. …

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