MASON CITY, Iowa – The room was packed Monday night with people standing in the hallway as students, parents, teachers, and neighbors to sound off on the proposed cuts in staff and services.
Emotions ran high as more than a dozen people stepped up to speak.
But one thing everybody was able to understand: nothing about this is easy.
One by one, they came.
“Unfortunately god only made one of him. Teachers should be based on quality not quantity,” said one freshman from Mason City High School.
“Kelli Ciavarelli is an excellent teacher with her unique style. Not only does she teach our children how to read and write and do arithmetic, she teaches our children how to love learning,” said a resident from Mason City.
Concerned citizens were given five minutes to address the Mason City School Board about why they feel certain cuts should or should not be made.
While some were filled with emotion, others were straightforward:
“I guess more than anything I want you all to knows that this just doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Coach Penner.
The administration is struggling to find two million dollars in cuts.
They say one of the biggest contributors to the budget shortfall is a lack of funding from the state.
For the second time in twenty years no agreement was made between the house and senate on how much the state will pay the district per pupil.
Combine that with a school levy not kicking in until next year, reserve money not being able to be spent, and a set budget.
They say the only thing left to do is cut some positions.
Superintendent Dr. Anita Micich says it comes after several years of avoiding major cuts.
“A little bit yes and I think it’s because we haven’t made reductions along the way but we also got some money from the state so we were able to hire some teachers back. We hadn’t hired anybody for a long time,” said Dr. Micich.
Around a dozen or more positions could be reduced and due to seniority, those newly hired will likely be on the chopping block.
So now the school board is spending now till the middle of May on addressing these decisions that will send a ripple effect through the district.
“We can’t spend the money if we don’t have the authority from the state to spend so we are in a difficult place and the board is at a difficult place,” said Dr. Micich.
No band leader positions were cut tonight and neither were athletic coaching positions.
Some contracts were terminated Monday night while others are asking for a private meeting with the school board.
All teachers had to be notified by April 30th if they were going to lose their jobs.