Parents outraged over cuts to PCSSD programs, district blames de - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Parents outraged over cuts to PCSSD programs, district blames deseg settlement

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SHERWOOD (KATV) - Parents in turned out in droves Thursday night for an emergency PTA meeting at Clinton Elementary Magnet School.  They're up in arms over potential cuts to programs at their school – cuts to programs that make their school a magnet school.

"Don't mess with our school," exclaimed one parent speaking out, Thursday night.

But parents say the Pulaski County Special School District is messing with their school – cutting both speech communication and technology class – two subjects the school specializes in.

"It puts our children at a disadvantage is how we feel," said Tina Lee, concerned parent and Clinton PTA member.

Dr. Janice Warren, assistant superintendent at PCSSD, isn't happy about the cuts either but says it's a reality of the ending of desegregation funding to the district.

"The district has no choice but to cut these programs because that was our source of funding for these programs," said Warren.

Clinton is not the only school set to lose programs in the 2014-2015 school year.  PCSSD has identified four major programs in 20 of the district's 36 schools that will be cut next year.  Warren said the programs required "extra-positions" that were created to draw students to the district and were funded with desegregation money.

But those specialized technology and speech communication courses are why Lee chose Clinton Elementary for her kids.

"They are learning not just basic keyboarding skills," said Lee, regarding the school's technology course.  "But how to do a Powerpoint, how to use Excel."

Warren said although that class may be going away, that doesn't mean those skills won't be taught in other classes.

"Technology is not going away in this school," said Warren.  "We have technology provided in every single classroom."

But those specialized teachers associated with that and the speech communication program will go away.  Even though desegregation funding doesn't disappear for the next three years, Warren said the district has to plan ahead.

"Certainly the district can't wait until that time to start cutting programs," said Warren.

Lee said there has to be other options – grants, fundraising, anything.

"Just give us a chance to at least find a way to fund it if you don't have it in the budget to fund it yourself," said Lee.

On average, two teacher positions will be eliminated at most PCSSD schools because of the lack of desegregation funding.  But Warren said with more than 100 teachers on average retiring every year – those positions will most likely end up being absorbed by attrition.