Catoosa Public Schools have announced another round of budget cuts. The district plans to reduce spending by three quarters of a million dollars for the 2007-2008 school year. The staff let go earlier this year will not be rehired, transfer students will no longer be able to attend Catoosa schools and several more programs will be eliminated. The harsh realities of Catoosa's budget crisis are laid out on the superintendent's dry-erase board. The News On 6â€™s Chris Wright reports the district made its money problems public in March, and Catoosa has been reeling ever since.
"It's painful for the students, painful for employees, painful for parents and the community members," said Catoosa curriculum director Mitch McGettee.
The painful process now includes slashing $750,000 from next year's budget. The staff will not be saved. Four teachers and more than 20 support staff members let go in March will not be rehired. A preschool program for four-year-olds will be discontinued. The football team will remain, but Catoosa is getting rid of its boys and girls golf squad. Several basketball assistant coaching positions will also be eliminated. The new round of cuts has parents, some of whom moved to Catoosa for the schools, frustrated.
"We find out that a lot of this money is missing, everywhere, not what we thought it would be," said parent Le Dierker.
Fewer teachers, of course, means more kids in each classroom. To comply with state law, the school board has decided to no longer allow emergency transfer students. Starting next year, the more than 130 of them will have to go school somewhere else. Kids say it will be tough to say goodbye to their friends.
"It's our friends, and now they're getting all these letters in the mail telling them they can't go here anymore," said Catoosa student Alyssa Quinally.
Administrators are confident the cuts will finally get Catoosa back in the black. They say the last few months have been trying, and they hope other districts don't have to endure what they have.
"I hope so. I wouldnâ€™t wish this on anyone," said McGettee.
Former superintendent Larry Cale was let go last month. Interim Superintendent Bill White is overseeing this round of cuts. The district is still looking for a full-time superintendent.
Watch the video: More Budget Cuts At Catoosa Schools
3/6/2007 Budget Shortfall Could Mean Fewer Teachers
3/7/2007 Teacher Layoffs Prompt Walkout
4/5/2007 School's Debt Could Lead To The Firing Of Superintendent
4/6/2007 Superintendents Job May Be Next To Go At Debt Ridden School
4/8/2007 School Superintendent Agreement Set For Vote
4/9/2007 School Board Reaches Decision Concerning Superintendent