The third and final public hearing held by the Centerville School Board filled the cafeteria at Mystic Elementary Tuesday evening.
About 15 people spoke during the hearing, with several focusing on the possible loss of Title I reading teachers and special education teachers.
Ranae McGrann, who teaches first grade at Garfield spoke about the help that teachers receive from both Title I and special education teachers.
"Our Title I teacher works with each and every student in our building on a daily basis," said McGrann. "We're able to spilt our classes into small groups for a significant period of time during the day and that's when we get to work on reading and math skills and differentiate our teaching so that it meets our students needs…We've also been very fortunate to keep our children on the special education roster low because of the individual attention that our students receive and this has allowed our special education teacher to not only serve those on that special ed roster, but also to work with the other classes during our small group time which makes our classes even smaller. And when you talk about having to increase class sizes with possible building closings and other changes…I would hate to see that full-time support taken away. Our special education teacher has also been able to do interventions with at-risk students with the purpose of trying to keep them out of special education…This stable foundation that we provide our elementary students would not be possible if we didn't have these full time Title I position teachers in our building and the special education teacher full time in our building."
Several community members also spoke, wondering how the school system got into their current financial situation.
"I don't understand why we didn't have a business plan to see this coming," said Randy Eddy. "To me that's poor planning. This should have never, ever happened in my opinion…The blame goes to all of us…How active have we been at school board meetings? We should have been there involved, asking questions…But I would also ask the administration to lead by example."
Linda Harlan, a special education teacher at Central Elementary, spoke about the importance of class size and also the rumor that third grade might be moved to Lakeview. Worries about class size were persistent throughout all three public hearings.
"I have heard that the third grade may be moving to Lakeview to make a 3-6 building if the Mystic and Cincinnati buildings are being closed," said Harlan. "I do not feel our third graders are mature and emotionally ready to be mixed with the fourth, fifth and sixth graders. Remember, they are only nine years old."
Kevin Stallo, who said he had attended both the Centerville and Mystic public hearings, gave some suggestions for cost cutting measures.
"Instead of looking at just cutting educators, just cutting teachers…look at non-educators," said Stallo. "If we lose teachers, they're not going to come back…Approach the teacher's association…and see if they'd be willing to vote for a furlough. We voted in a 40 hour furlough. We took 40 hours without pay…Part of that was for the remainder of that contract no contract employee could be laid off. It's an idea."
Others throughout the night also asked if there was any consideration being given to cutting sports. On the original list of possible positions being cut, no coaching positions were listed.
After everyone spoke the school board adjourned the public hearing. The board will have a work session at 6:30 p.m. at the administration building and their regular board meeting Tuesday, March 13 at 7 p.m. They are expected to make their final cost cutting decision that evening.