Proposed school budget cuts in Polk could impact class schedules - WFLA News Channel 8

Proposed school budget cuts in Polk could impact class schedules

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BARTOW, FL (WFLA) -

Middle and high school students in Polk County may have one less class period next year if proposed budget cuts pass. 

School Board members say they need to slash $18 million from the district's current budget in order to protect teacher pay raises for the up-coming school year.

Hazel Sellers, chairwoman of the school board, says reducing the number of class periods per day could save Polk more than $7.2 million dollars.

"If you have to make major cuts you're going to have to make them in the classroom because that's where we have the money," Sellers says.

Right now the board is considering reducing high school schedules from seven periods to six and middle schools from eight periods to seven.

"The school day will still be the same length," Sellers says.

The county's teacher's union is the Polk Education Association, and it's headed by Marianne Capoziello. She says lawmakers bear much of the blame for the budget constraints.

"I hope this is a rallying cry to say it's time for us to demand from our state a well-funded education system... and to have our federal government stop playing games and come to some solutions for what's going to happen for our students," Capoziello said.

She believes classroom cuts at this point may be unavoidable.

"We've fought very hard to try to keep cuts away from the classroom. We've tried very hard to try to maintain a system, but at the end of the day you can't have a champagne system on a beer budget," she said.

Sellers says it's not just class schedule reductions on the table. She says nearly every department district wide has seen cuts to services and personnel to the tune of close to $10 million.

The school board will hold two public meetings to discuss the upcoming budget cuts. The first will take place at Harrison School for the Performing Arts in Lakeland Monday March, 11th at 6:30pm.

The second will take place at Ridge High School in Davenport Thursday March 14th at 6:30pm.

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