TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW) -- 35 positions are being cut in the Tonawanda City School District. "Many teachers in my building... were cut," one elementary school teacher said who started the Enrichment Program in the district. "Unfortunately it's the children who are going to see the cuts."
"It's crazy, upsets me a lot because all those teachers in there helped me and they're wonderful people and they're here for the students," a recent graduate from Tonawanda High School said after hearing the news.
Among the 35 positions being removed most are teachers and teacher aides which include full time and part time positions. The cuts are blamed on large reductions in state aide and the dropping enrollment over the past decade. "All the teaching jobs and teaching assistant jobs, the ones that were eliminated, were the ones that quite frankly we should have been reducing through the past 8 years," Jim Weber, School Board Vice President, said.
"I think that we've done a good job of balancing the needs of the community versus the needs of the students," Joseph Giarrizzo, with the Tonawanda City School District, said.
School board members voted on the cuts Tuesday night and even though it passed, not every board member is in agreement. "I think there are other ways to cut," School Board Member Augustine Beyer said. "Our teachers are frontline educators, they are too important and they shouldn't be looked at so lightly as they were throughout this entire budgetary process."
The school district says these cuts are necessary to close the budget gap and will not affect student education. But it's a claim that many people find hard to believe. "They'll end up with bigger class sizes and the kids won't be able to learn as well," one parent said. "Terrible, absolutely terrible."
Among the cuts are two principal positions at the middle and high schools which are being consolidated into one. Also, the position that runs the Family Assistance Center of Tonawanda (FACT) is being removed but the program will remain. The 35 lost positions make up nine percent of the district's staff.
The cuts are based on seniority and the employees will get to finish out this school year until the end of June.