Granite board spares bands from budget cuts, orders layoffs

News-DemocratMarch 12, 2014 

The Granite City School Board voted Tuesday to spare the school system's fifth- and sixth-grade band programs from budget cuts.

But some of the music teachers who lead those bands -- as well as several other staff members in District 9 schools -- will be laid off, at least temporarily.

"We've been looking at a number of budget proposals for months," District 9 Superintendent Jim Greenwald said. "We have a $3.3 million budget deficit and fixing something like that is never easy. We didn't want to have to do any of this and we really tried to preserve as much as possible."

To spare the band programs and avoid another proposal to eliminate all junior high athletics, the school board voted to lay off half the band teachers, half the physical education teachers, a Spanish teacher, two truancy officers and a reading specialist. In total, 13 staff members will lose their jobs.

While the junior high and middle school bands were saved, parents will have to pay for their kids to play in music groups or on sports teams. Fees were increased to help balance the budget.

A $75 athletic fee will charged per sport at high school with a maximum fee of $150. Junior high students will pay $50 per sport with a $100 maximum. It will cost $75 to play in the band.

Greenwald said the fees were "a long time coming because many other schools in the area have been charging the fees for a very long time."

Also raised was the cost of a high school student parking permit from $25 to $75 per year, the cost of drivers education from $150 to $250 and the price of a student activity ticket from $15 to $25.

The budget decisions came Tuesday evening at a District 9 school board meeting after a lengthy debate on how to trim the school system's budget. Parents have argued that the middle school bands are needed as an important part of students' education while the teachers union argued against the staff cuts.

School leaders said they were hopeful that a way to restore at least some of the teachers' positions will be found before next school year.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at or call 239-2626.

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