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 CAB School Board May Slash Five Jobs

April 18, 2007 - The Charles A. Beard Memorial School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to officially begin a process that will, if approved by the board next month, lead to the elimination of five positions within the school corporation.

To address what he said was a "significant decline in revenue" in CAB's General Fund, Superintendent David McGuire recommended to the board that the following positions be eliminated: mental health counselor for high school and intermediate school students; social worker for elementary students; vocal music teacher for high school and intermediate school students; a high school business teacher; and gifted and talented teacher for intermediate school students. McGuire said that by taking this action, CAB could save between $185,000 and $200,000.

"There's no easy fix," McGuire told board members before they took their vote. He said that telling a quality teacher that their position has to be eliminated due to a lack of funding is one of the most difficult parts of his job.

The financial crisis that has struck CAB's General Fund is, McGuire explained at last month's board meeting, due to decreased student enrollment and the result of not collecting the maximum tax levy available for the General Fund in 2006. If student enrollment continues to drop next year, McGuire said it may be necessary to eliminate additional positions at that time.

"Well, certainly, our finances are what they are," remarked Board President Mike Fruth, who said the board's decision to collect less than the maximum available for the General Fund in 2006 was in response to citizen complaints about high taxes, adding, "That's what the patrons requested." Addressing the current shortfall and the need to cut positions, he said, "If the money's not there, we've got to make some cuts some place. … We can't spend money that we don't have."

McGuire's recommendation to cut the vocal music teaching position has already hit a sour note with many students. Two students who attended Tuesday's meeting gave impassioned pleas on behalf of CAB's choir program, which serves both students at Knightstown High School and Knightstown Intermediate School.

KHS Junior Jake Cullison told the board that he was deeply saddened by the decision to eliminate the vocal music teaching position, which is currently held by Jan Crouch. He said music is something that has helped him personally through rough times and that involvement in choir has enriched his life and those of fellow students.

"I would like to know why we have a multi-million dollar auditorium, but now have only one group to perform in it," Cullison said. "The idea that myself and fellow classmates weren't good enough or respected enough as musicians to perform in that auditorium makes me highly disappointed in the adults responsible for this injustice.

"I would also like to know why there are sports teams with but five or six members, and the arts are being chosen to be cut," Cullison continued. "Choir gains a number of members every year and many sports teams never increase past 10 athletes."

Unlike sports, Cullison said music is something that is useful for a lifetime. "The lessons that you learn are life lessons that you will always remember," he said. "Just because a class is not a state requirement doesn't mean it's not important."

Cody Hibbert, also a KHS junior, echoed many of Cullison's sentiments. "Choir has a way of bringing people together," he told board members. He said he had made many new friends through his involvement with the program and that choir "is more than just a class," but is instead an unforgettable life experience.

When he began his comments, Hibbert handed the board a petition he said had been signed by over 160 people who disagreed with the decision to eliminate the vocal music teaching position. "All of these people believe the choir should stay," he said. "Although the school board may already have their minds made up, I am standing here to ask them to find a different solution."

With respect to the choir programs, McGuire said at Tuesday's meeting that there is an extracurricular stipend available that could be used to hire a "choral coach." If that is done, choir would no longer be a class, but would be considered an extracurricular activity like other clubs.

 

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