STREATOR - School District 44 in Streator is facing major budget cuts meaning dozens of school employees are soon to be out of a job and some subjects are on the chopping block.
The Streator school board decided to cut art, music and physical education in its elementary and middle schools. Board members are proposing to reduce those subjects to only 30 minutes per week.
Board President Dave Conner said it's all because of a more than $1-million reduction in state aid.
"Sad. You know if I was a student right now I wouldn't be excited to go to school," Conner said.
Conner said the outlook for a student in the district is grim because of major cuts the board is making to music, art and physical education, but that's not all.
"At the junior high level it's eliminated all athletics, eliminated all clubs and also everything that motivates a student to better grade-wise is gone," he said.
Parents are Like Christine Fitzgerald are worried about the impact this will have on their children's education.
"I think that that sucks because education is very important especially for my son, he's got autism," Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald has a son in kindergarten. She said her son thrives in P.E., that it helps him manage other classes.
"I think that his education will probably go down," she said.
But students won't the the only ones affected. More than 35 district employees will either not have thier contract renewed, be let go, or reduced from full time to part time.
Next year, Rose-Marie Lowe will be the only art teacher for four different buildings, instructing 1,300 students a week.
"So the quality will change. I know that I wont be able to do the things I do now," Lowe said.
Nicole Geary is another Streator parent who said the arts are a core part of a rounded education. Her son, Tristen, said a mental break between classes boosts his grades.
"After I get done with a huge math test, instead of just gong right to science and taking a huge science test, it gives me a little break to calm down and reset."
Geary said she's afraid Tristen will get less out of school, than she did when she was a student.
"Upset, I mean, I understand they need to make cuts, but I would think they could do it in a way where it doesn't affect the kids. I mean, majority of kids are going to learn art in school. I for one can't draw worth anything so for me to teach my kid would be impossible. And P.E., that's how they burn off some of the energy and stay fit," Geary said.
It's not just P.E, art and music teachers who will feel the brunt of this.
Starting at the beginning of next school year, custodians are having their hours cut, teachers aides are being let go, along with a printer operator, secretary, social worker and assistant principal.
The school board says with more funding cuts ahead, it's already looking at more reductions for the next school year.
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