Sunnyside District holds meeting on proposed cuts - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Sunnyside District holds meeting on proposed cuts

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The music department is one of many to be cut at Sunnyside School District The music department is one of many to be cut at Sunnyside School District
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The sound of music is not enough to keep the arts program thriving at Sunnyside.

Fifth grade band and orchestra are just some of many things now on the chopping block.

"I have such a love for what I do and to see it cut is so hard," said music teacher Jennifer Bliss Morris. "I know it has to come from somewhere, but it's just so hard to see it."

Teachers rallied outside, hoping strength in numbers would send a strong message to the board.

Dozens of parents and teachers packed into the lobby of the administration building, eager to know how these cuts would affect them. They came armed with signs, a little too late, say school leaders.

"The damage has been done. The kids have lost," said Sunnyside School Board Chairman, Louie Gonzalez.

"We need to take to the board a $5 million dollar reduction for next year's budget," said Dr. Manuel Isquierdo, Sunnyside School Superintendent.

Here is a look at some of the proposed cuts:

-Closure of Los Ranchitos Elementary School and redeployment of students to neighboring schools.  It is an underperforming school with a failing grade.

-Redesign of Los Ranchitos as Parent Engagement Center.  This will include Health and Wellness Services, the Parents as Teachers Program, Parent Engagement Program, among others.   Total savings: $750,000

-Closure of Professional and Community Education Center- some resources will be relocated to other district campuses.  Savings: $25,000

-Closure of Chapparal Middle School- Redesign as New K-8 Fine Arts School.  Savings: $1 Million

-Redesign 6 elementary schools to K-6 Academies

-Redesign 2 additional elementary schools as K-8 Magnet Schools

-Sixth grade students in the Chaparral feeder pattern will remain with their current elementary school

-Redesign of Ocotillo- Redesign Ocotillo as a Pre-K through 1st grade Early Childhood Center.  This new design will build on the school's current success as a preschool and still provide increased cost efficiency.  Programs will be reduced by 50% to allow for the addition of kindergarten and first grades.  The new Ocotillo early childhood center will house only fee-based and special education needs preschool in the 2014-2015 school year and future.  Savings: $681,000

-Reduce and Redesign Central District Maintenance Services- reduced by 22 employees.  Maintenance that is related to current bond renovations will be addressed through bond funds.  Savings: $919,000

-Release of ESI and Return-to-work retiree employees- Sunnyside is one of the few districts in Pima County that has operated with this program.  Currently nearly 200 employees are in this program.  This program will be reduced by 50% to provide savings. All classified and certified ESI and return-to-work employees will be released to provide for optimization of the workforce and a selection process will be designed to re-employ 50% of the most qualified of these classified and certified employees.  Savings: $222,746

-Reduction of Librarian Positions- 20 librarian employees will be released and a process put in place to fill eight librarian positions aligned to the job expectations of the district's vision of 21st century libraries.  Savings: $562,285

-Eliminate One Elementary Specialist:  All elementary specialists will be released and P.E., music, and art will be redesigned.  Plans are being created to provide a Health and Wellness educator (with P.E. certification) for each elementary school.  The elementary schools will share 6 art and 6 music teachers who will form a blended fine arts program.  Savings: $585,000

-Eliminate 5th grade band and orchestra program:  Elimination of three to five band and orchestra positions across all elementary schools. All general music teachers will be maintained in all elementary schools to maintain the district's commitment to music and fine arts.  The districts new Fine Arts school will strengthen the opportunities and programs for performing arts in the elementary grades. Savings: $180,000

-Reduction of campus monitors:  With the development of the new SUSD Security Department and the strategic use of video cameras across the district, the goal of reducing ten campus monitors across the district is anticipated.  Savings: $219,000

-$500,000 Reduction in Administrators and Coordinators:

Total anticipated Savings: $5,644,616

More reductions are currently being discussed.  School board members will have to vote on these cuts.  That is expected to take place at the November 26th board meeting.

"It's going to be a sad day for all of us," said Gonzales. "We're all going to take a hit."

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