TACT Seeks to Raise Awareness About Proposed Budget Cuts Affecting PR Schools

TACT stands for Pine-Richland Teachers and Community Together.

A crowd gathered outside the Pine-Richland School Board's meeting Monday night in an effort to raise awareness about proposed cuts in the schools' budget.

"Are we dropping our elite status?" was printed at the top of six different fliers passed out by TACT—Pine-Richland Teachers and Community Together—to inform the public about cuts in various program areas.

"We're trying to save our top-of-the-line programs at Pine-Richland," said TACT co-founder Shawn Scott, a ninth grade earth science teacher. "We're making people aware our quality programs are at risk."

The Pine-Richland School Board was not scheduled to vote on the budget Monday night. The next step in the budget process is for the finance committee to discuss the budget at its 6 p.m. May 16 meeting.

The public is invited to speak to the board during its "Recognition of Visitors" time at the beginnning and end of every meeting.

When asked what TACT proposes, Scott said the group is not advancing a proposal. He said no TACT representatives would speak before the board Monday night.

Speakers would represent themselves, not the group, he said.

The fliers referred to proposed cuts in physical education, music, art and the child development program at Pine-Richland High School. They also referred to reductions in the world languages program and the business and technology program at Eden Hall Upper Elementary.

As the meeting started, school board President Stephen Hawbaker asked people standing in the hallway to come into the conference room where the board was meeting.

Director Peter Lyons stepped to the door and said, "There are a lot of empty seats. Please come in."

A number of people then filed into the room, filling chairs and circling the room with a standing-room-only crowd. Still, more people remained outside the building.

Hawbaker said he "was not made aware" that a large group would be attending the board's meeting.

"Had we known, we would have made accommodations" by meeting in a larger venue, said Hawbaker.

About 30 people spoke, encouraging the board not to cut programs, even if that means raising taxes.

Several students told the board that classes on the proposed cut list, such as those in the family and consumer sciences department, have helped make them well-rounded people.

They also talked about classes that helped prepare them for careers in education, music and other areas.

Wendy Compernolle, who has four children in the school district, pointed out how many hours will be cut in art, band, physical education, world languages and music at Eden Hall.

Other parents spoke about how vital the elective programs are to students. 

"I never thought I'd say this," said parent Heather Kisow. "Raise my taxes. Raise them as much as you want. I came here and I want to stay here."



Would you like to make your view heard about the proposed 2012-13 schools budget, which has a $2 million gap? Do you think taxes should be raised? Should programs be cut? Please leave comments below or consider writing a blog for Pine-Richland Patch. To blog, you simply need to click here.

Cathy Wiskemann May 09, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Raise my taxes. Students come first.
Phil May 09, 2012 at 08:08 PM
It's a sad reality, but when times are tough, non productive classes such as art that do not train an individual to be a productive member of society need to be cut before raising taxes on families that are struggling in this economy. I plain can't afford another tax increase this year. We all have to chip in, even the PR school district to get through these tough times.
Suzy May 10, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Dear Mr. Mathewson... Have you ever watched a Disney movie? Received or purchased a holiday card? Read a story book to your children? Had a family photograph taken? Bought a graphic T-shirt? Put a bumper sticker on your car? Without artists, none of these things would be possible. Without artists there would be no advertising. The CEOs, the scientists, the doctors, the drug companies, the insurance companies, the so-called "productive members of society" wouldn't be able to sell their products without artists. The artists who create their logos, websites, and pamphlets and their company image. Without artists, capitalism will come to a screeching halt. You think the economy is bad now? It's going to get a lot worse without artists in the world. Art and Design is at the heart of capitalism. The only reason that someone can deem art as non-productive is if they were blind. I agree, some people are struggling. Others are struggling to learn how to use the key-less entry on their new Volvo's... However, If this economy is going to get better, it's going to be because of artists.
Phil May 10, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Thank you Suzy. I don't disagree. I'm simply stating that before raising taxes on its residents, PR should evaluate whether residents have any more to give. All budgets should be evaluated, priorities made, and unfortunately not every line item makes the cut. I, for example, don't get to explore certain life opportunities because I don't have the money, and I do not get to simply "raise taxes" to get everything I want. PR may have to make the same tough choices, and that's called life.
Daniel B May 10, 2012 at 08:11 PM
How much money did we put into the baseball field at the old high school? What is the cost to upkeep the new Football field? What is the upcoming change in the computer system from Mac to Microsoft going to cost? What did the cafeteria renovation cost?? Manage your budget better school board! Maybe divert some of that money toward a more important thing like a teacher or a class. Also, please quit trying to sneak things in the back door hours before a meeting, this is our school district, not yours! Dan B Wexford
Thomas Perko May 12, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Suzy, the burden to reestablish elite status doesn't involve dropping the Arts, however I would appreciate your enthusiasm more if you took a more practical approach to emphasize your point. While Art is important, is it not equally important for Science, Technology, Mathematics, Economics, Global Studies programs to grow with the demand of a global economy? There wouldn't be any Range Resources commercials or $5 billion dollar Royal Shell investments in the area if it weren't for Engineering. The quality of education that a district provides should remain the constant focus for personnel given the responsibility to best position our schools to succeed on an annual basis. Raising taxes is a temporary fix for an ongoing problem. The obvious problem being a gross mismanagement of assets and haphazard planning for improvements as the BOD continually struggles to manage growth. As Daniel said, with all of these capital improvement projects and construction initiatives, we should be taking a good hard look at the projects that are being done and the priority in which these funds are appropriated. Constructing a building is one thing, creating a challenging curriculum that helps place our students in better colleges and profession is still the main priority. Continuing to dump money into athletics is a slap in the face when classes like Economics are on the chopping block. .44% of high school athletes go Pro 1,536,799 non-business bankruptcy filings in 2010
Suzy May 12, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I completely agree. I'm not saying that art is the most important subject, I was just taken aback by Mr. Mathewson's remark that art is an unproductive subject. I agree that if cuts do need to made they should be made regarding things that are superficial, such as the renovation of the high school parking lot with brick walkways. Most of the students j-walk anyways? If anything they should be teaching Economics and budgeting concepts earlier and more frequently in the schools. Who's bright idea was it to cut economics of all classes, "Well our economy is bad and we are low on funds...let's not teach the future generation how to manage or even avoid these problems we're facing. Let's just get new sports equipment." It's like if a child needed braces because they sucked their thumb, so to make them feel better about their new braces, we got them a pack of chewing gum. They can't chew the gum anyways. It's not going to help them.
Daniel B May 14, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Has anyone heard that Wexford Elementary is getting new carpeting this summer? I was just there for open house and am wondering if the change was really necessary, everything looked fine to me. Also, why are we spending big money for new dehumidification at the high school swimming pool? Lastly, has anyone else heard that we are getting another set of dugouts at one of the school districts baseball fields? I have heard that the project has been delayed because they are waiting for the special order stone that will match the dugouts at the old high school fields. Is this true??? Dan B from Wexford
Jennnifer May 15, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Are the parents or teachers of TACT planning to meet or take other action? I would like to know if there are groups organizing. We need to do more to be heard, to broaden the process, seek input from all stakeholders- not just a small committee, and to influence what options are explored. The time to act is now. Jennifer
Daniel B May 21, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Well everyone, some teachers got their slips today so it is for real, and I will bet that there are less than 100 people at the meeting tonight! This is how they do it! There is no consideration for the resident taxpayer wants or needs, they know we do nothing more than gripe at our own dinner table! Isaiah 53:7–9 He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open his mouth Hmmmmmm. How fitting Dan B Wexford
Parent #2 May 21, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Oh please. Ok- how about they put it to a referendum and then you will see how the rest of the district feels about higher taxes? I guarantee the taxpayers of the district would not think twice about layoffs... Hate to say it. Such is the reality we are in today.
Stacy May 22, 2012 at 10:51 AM
Excellent point(s), Phil.
Stacy May 22, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Personally, I wrote a letter to the school board supporting the cuts they had outlined: None of the cuts proposed were truly instrumental to preparing students for college OR technical school OR the work force upon graduation. It is sad that people do not understand that this school district is in fact (via their actions) valuing science (for example) LESS than art. Due to the new construction at the HS we actually LOSS science capability in the HS classes (loss 6 burners per table) and added a very expensive atrium that students are not allowed to use (how much did THAT cost?) and I cringe every time I pull into the parking lot. Reality is that everyone must live within a budget and PRSD seems incapable of that, and since they just raised taxes yet again, their tradition of catering to small vocal crowds is continuing. Ironically, Westinghouse announced that today they would be cutting jobs in Western PA. Wake up folks.
Daniel B May 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Maybe in Braddock or McKees Rocks, but we pay some big taxes to live out here and we are entitled to high expectations. Also, how can we have a budget short fall? Look at all of the businesses going in, the big dollar houses going up, and the average income per house. We don't need all of the fancy schmancy stuff in the schools in lieu of programs and teachers. I agree we need to do some cutting, lets start with the luxury items first! Dan B
Stacy May 22, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Dan B: I agree with you regarding "luxury items" and hate that teachers being let go and small children losing some music opportunities seemed to be quickly placed on the chopping block when alternative choices were not offered up. With SAT and AP scores dropping substantially below our NA neighbors, I honestly believe that we have tipped over to where we think tossing money in a bucket equals quality when in fact it does not. All that said, I am sure that for the most part the school board members each voted how they truly felt was best for the community.
Daniel B June 14, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Now I am hearing that one of the schools is having a quarter of a million dollar face lift, all of the grade school teachers and students are getting new lap tops, yes I said lap tops, and we are supposedly low on money. Dan from Wexford again.
Daniel B June 14, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Oh, forgot to mention that about 100 teachers got their slips this week. Dan from Wexford
a mom June 14, 2012 at 03:38 PM
wow! I would have thought they would wait until June 25th. Guess I will be attending yet another meeting. At least it starts at 6:30. I heard the rumor but was hoping it was not true. Still hope it is not true.
PR Mom 18 June 15, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Can somebody explain about the teachers? How could 100 teachers get a pink slip if only 5.5 teachers were to be furloughed???
Susan M. June 15, 2012 at 02:07 PM
How in the world could 100 teachers "get their slips"....?
Richard June 16, 2012 at 06:50 PM
About the slips...the district needed to alert everyone that could get furloughed. Furloughs are based on what programs are to be cut. However, some teachers that are to have their programs cut are certified to teach another subject. So, a physical education teacher that is to be furloughed might be certified in say English. The district is doing this to cover all options. All teachers can take tests to become certified up to the end of August. So in the end, the actual names of the teachers that will be furloughed will not be known until late August.
Elizabeth June 17, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Yes, that is called checkerboarding and so phys ed., music, art teachers the ones that will be cut first can bump Math, English, Biology teachers etc with not as much seniority in years , but who may have masters degrees will be gone!? Parents need to know this. They are pitting teacher against teacher this way. Another reason to love the Teacher's Union. Parents do you want your high school student being taught a core subject with a teacher who has NO background in the subject but is certified by one test? Think about it........... a teacher who should be teaching music or gym (pickleball) teaching 11th grade English! Really??????


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