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Big Budget Cut Plans

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INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -- The superintendent of the Independence School District is laying out his plans for drastic cuts. The district needs to slash nearly $800,000 from the 2010-2011 budget. This could mean closing one school... And laying off several instructors.

Last January, Independence students made it known - they did not want their programs cut. They marched in protest outside their school, calling for the district to find other means for balancing the budget. Nearly one year later, it's a case of deja vu.

Former student, and brother of two current students Austin Grover noted, "it's really getting ridiculous."

Here's the breakdown of the drastic changes. East Elementary kids, would head to West Elementary. The third through fifth graders attending West now, would join the sixth graders at the middle school. And the seventh and eighth graders are moving up to high school.

Superintendent Devin Embray explained, "in doing this, we will have cut $1.4 million over two years, and we will have lost K-6 art and part of a marketing program. I don't know many districts that can say that."

Besides going from four main buildings to three, about 18 positions are on the chopping block.

"It's very tough. A lot of sleepless nights thinking about the staff that you're going to lose and making sure they land on their feet," said Embray.

Embray is laying out all the information online, and he's hoping the community will realize these tough decisions are the best for their kids.

"I think once they look at it and once they see it for what it is and what it's trying to accomplish, they can appreciate that we are still maintaining the amount of programming that we are," he said.

The chair of the Parent Teacher Organization, Shelly Bertelli, believes other parents and kids should get behind the current plan. She said its better than many alternatives - although she's sorry to see so many talented educators go.

The first public hearing on the cuts is Monday, January 11. The school board will make a final vote on the budget at the end of the month.

To read the proposal in its entirety, click here.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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