Crowd gives standing ovation when Parma school board president steps down

Parma parent says the 'idea of cramming 3,000 kids into one school is frightening'
Budget cuts protest (Source: WOIO)
Budget cuts protest (Source: WOIO)
Parma protestors (Source: WOIO)
Parma protestors (Source: WOIO)

PARMA, OH (WOIO) - Fireworks erupted inside Tuesday night's Parma School Board meeting as board President Kathleen Petro resigned minutes after the special meeting began.

For more than an hour, school board members were asked questions about the board's proposed plan to make up a $15 million budget deficit. The proposed plan would merge students into one high school, two middle schools and eight elementary schools, affecting Michele Tomecko's seven kids.

"She doesn't want to go to another school, she wants to go to Normandy. The kids at Green Valley, they're going to have to go to Hillside," Tomecko said.

The proposal would also cut dozens of positions, including home liaisons.

"They're eliminating the whole program, and that's 13 of us. We're worried about ourselves, but we're more worried about who's going to take care of our children when we're not there, and these kids in our schools are our children," said Greenbrier Home Liaison Kamie Stringer.

The plan might also cut programs like the arts.

"I can just tell you that my daughter's sign says 'I was in Art Club, because they just cut Art Club this week,'" said parent Linda David. "She paid $15 to join Art Club."

Administrators also gathered together to speak. Many people said they were frustrated because they were not involved in the decision-making process.

"As an association, we fear that the solutions provided last week are very short sighted and will have long-lasting, detrimental effects on our students and our community," said one school administrator.

The school's business manager Rusty Kuse says that by law, the school must balance the budget and come up with a plan to submit to the Ohio Department of Education by Oct. 17.

"It's hard to know what will happen in the future, given the fact that we have to make these decisions quickly for the Ohio Department of Education's mandate," said Kuse.

The School Board ultimately decided to ask the Ohio Department of Education for another extension, pushing back the current Oct. 17 deadline. If the extension is not granted, Parma City Schools will not be able to put in place the proposed plan that would save $4.7 million during the 2016-2017 school year. Instead, the district would cut an additional 78 staff members to make up for the budget deficit.

"I hope they can have more time to reconsider the ramifications of their actions," said Tomecko.

School board members said they won't go into receivership, so they're counting on an extension from the Department of Education.

The next regularly scheduled School Board meeting is Oct. 10.

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