Hundreds Attend Public Hearing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hundreds Attend Public Hearing

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INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -- A local school district is struggling to find a solution to their budget shortfall, and asking for the public's input. The Independence School Board is proposing to close East Elementary School, and re-arrange the make-up of its other schools.

It was standing room only at the first of two public hearings. The biggest concern was the plan to move 7th and 8th graders in with high school students, and how employee cuts will affect kids education.

One speaker put it bluntly "are there any other options?"

It's just one of many questions parents, teachers, and students have as Independence Schools battle with an $800,000 budget deficit.

5th and 6th grade Band Director Lisa Lang noted, "you've left us with a virtually impossible task."

Lang candidly and passionately explained how cutting a music teacher would effect the schools award winning program.

She said, "it would just be detrimental to our band program because we're already at a high level of student/teacher ratio with about 115 band students per director and by doing this it would be 172 to 173."

Many people have concerns... but no solution. Meanwhile Brian Eddy came prepared with an alternative long-term plan.

Eddy explained, "it would close the current high school which is our most out-dated facility, and it would allow for a centralized campus."

At the end of the night most people agree on one thing -- whatever the board decides, families in Independence need to rally behind the plan.

Administrators are figuring out every detail for this proposal, even ensuring there are enough lockers for every student at the high school. Board members said, if they don't make the changes, the district will be bankrupt in two years.

The school board is holding one more public hearing Monday, January 18th in Brandon. Board members will make a final decision on the recommendations at a special meeting one week later.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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