Upper Darby approves $160M budget, cuts
UPPER DARBY, Pa. - June 26, 2012 (WPVI) -- The Upper Darby School Board approved a $160-million budget Tuesday night along with drastic cuts to the arts.
The board sat on a stage in the Performing Arts Center at the high school with the set of a school play as a backdrop and listened to dramatic words from parents who hoped members wouldn't make the cuts.
"A vote for this proposal is a vote for privatization. If you destroy our curriculum why shouldn't we all go to charter schools?" one parent said.
At first, the plan was to wipe out more than 50 art, music, gym and library jobs in elementary schools and tech ed and foreign language in the middle schools, but the board decided to reinstate 19 teachers - 15 for elementary school music, art and physical ed, two for middle school foreign language and another two for middle school tech ed.
Librarians like Tara Torello-McClanahan were left out.
"I'm really saddened mostly for the children because there are so many children who do not have access to a public library through their family," Torello-McClanahan said.
In the end, the budget and the cuts were approved.
"You know what, it's a disgrace; we went up to Harrisburg, we fought with legislators," parent Carolyn Caron said.
"The children are going to be suffering and if I can't teach them, I guess nobody is going to," physical education teacher Jean Vetter said.
Board president Maureen Carey dodged the media after the meeting but member Earl Toole, who was one of two who voted against the budget, told us why.
"I've listened to them and I've heard them and so I just want to do what's right by them because they put me in office," Toole said.
And while there are frustrations with Harrisburg for a lack of funding, there's word the state is sending $2-million to Upper Darby.
Board officials couldn't say if or how many teachers would be brought back.
"We hope that when the governor finally signs the budget we'll be able to have a fantastic year ahead of us," Superintendent Louis Devlieger said.
Parents and educators have vowed to keep fighting for more funding.
Tonight's approved budget includes a property tax increase of 3.5 percent.
pennsylvania, school, delaware county, upper darby, local/state
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