Parents fear programs, courses could be on chopping block at Hillsborough County schools

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Earlier this year, 8 On Your Side showed viewers the clever way the Coleman Middle School orchestra dealt with the coronavirus crisis.

Teacher Karen Dillard asked her students to record their musical pieces at home and the solo performances were edited together.

However, over the weekend, things seemed to hit a bad note as parents reached out to 8 On Your Side saying they learned by email that the orchestra course could soon fade away.

“I just couldn’t believe I was reading that,” said parent Kristine Daniel. “We’re a month into school. Why now?”

Daniel has an 8th grade daughter who is devastated by the news.

“When she found out she was in tears. It was definitely a shock to the system,” Daniel said.

School districts nationwide are dealing with budget cuts due to the fallout and demands of the COVID-19 crisis.

Superintendent Addison Davis emailed parents over the weekend, saying the district budget needs to be re-aligned since enrollment is down. He assured programs like music, art, physical education, and advanced coursework would stay, even though some Coleman parents said they have been told otherwise.

“I really feel that orchestra is her place. And she’s found it. And then to have the rub ripped out right from underneath her, after six weeks of school,” said parent Ellie Probasco.

8 On Your Side spoke to district spokeswoman Erin Maloney who said as of Monday afternoon, no programs have been cut from the district. Leaders are in the process of looking at staffing on a school-by-school basis, Maloney said, but all programs remain intact.

The superintendent will speak during a budget meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, where COVID-19 impacts will be discussed. The school board meets later in the day at 4 p.m., Maloney said.

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