HEMPFIELD (KDKA) — A Westmoreland County school district is facing a difficult decision, and it could mean more teachers jobs are on the line.
Hempfield Area School District’s proposed budget for next year would furlough 7.5 teachers. Right now, the district has a $4.6 million deficit and will still be in the hole $1.6 million if these furloughs and staff reductions happen.
The district also faces 16.5 staff reductions, mostly at the high school. They are spots that won’t be filled due to more than two dozen retirements and resignations and a drop in enrollment.
It’s a harsh reality school districts across the state of Pennsylvania have had to face for some time.
“The delay with the budget this year caused many districts to experience a lot of difficulties,” said Hempfield Area School District Superintendent Dr. Barbara Marin.
In addition to furloughs and staff reductions, a new budget could mean taxpayers would have to pay more money yearly.
“Where do you think the people get this money from? I’m not sure if we drop it out of our own back pocket or what,” one taxpayer said during public comment.
The district is also looking into cutting back on its athletic programs, curriculum and school supplies.
Plans are in place to make minor changes to the middle school class schedule, but a major restructuring at the middle school could go into effect for the 2017-18 school year.
“I believe they are the last people the district should be furloughing. It has a direct impact on students,” one parent said.
“I have been greatly concerned of discussion I heard over elimination of music education at our middle school. I ask you not to consider doing this,” one sixth grade student said.
The school board will vote on a preliminary budget next Monday. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Then, the board will have to wait 30 days before a final vote in June.
You can review the school district’s 2016-17 proposed budget here.