Parents question fairness of Valpo school cuts

2012-05-16T21:45:00Z 2012-05-17T15:43:18Z Parents question fairness of Valpo school cutsBy Jeff Burton, (219) 548-4354

VALPARAISO | With details of an approved budget balancing plan trickling out, Valparaiso Community Schools parents are questioning whether there's parity in cuts being made to athletics and the arts.

During a Wednesday night School Board meeting, Lisa Stressler, a member of the Valparaiso Band Parents Association, said information she's received shows music programs have been hit exceptionally hard.

Stressler said the Valparaiso High School Jazz Band program has had its only expense, that of the director stipend, eliminated.

She said that could essentially eliminate the program and she'd like to see costs of each extra-curricular activity calculated per student-hour.

"If we're going to approach this shortfall fairly, let's do so with honest numbers," she said.

Parent Chris Pupillo said the cuts also eliminated the accompanist for the high school's choirs and the entire band equipment budget.

"As I look at that list, I'm concerned sports isn't bearing an equitable load of the cuts," Pupillo said.

Lynn Kwilasz, the district's chief financial officer, said all equipment was slashed in the revised budget, whether for music or gym equipment or replacement desks for students.

Superintendent Andrew Melin said some of the cuts may be revisited, depending on revenue forecasts.

When it comes to parity, Melin said of the $109,000 in cuts to extra curricular activities, $60,000 came from athletics and $16,000 from the arts.

Pupillo also questioned whether the budget issues were being used to revive plans to consolidate schools.

Melin said building issues were prevalent long before the shortfall.

"We need a plan. It's time for us to seriously discuss our facilities issues," Melin said.

Currently, elementary schools west of Campbell Street are at or beyond capacity and those to the east aren't, Melin said, and expanding existing buildings or constructing new schools could reduce long-range operating expenses.

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