9OYS Education Watch

'The most daunting issue': TUSD head talks slashed budget, shrinking staff

CREATED Feb. 25, 2013

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  • In the midst of big budget cuts, the head of the state's second largest school district delivered his "State of the District" speech. Video by 1041kqth.com

    video

Reporter: Kevin Keen
 
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The state's second largest school district is in the middle of big budget cuts. Something has to give and, Monday night, some parents and employees worried that would be staff. The head of Tucson Unified School District addressed some of the concerns during his “State of the District” speech.
 
KGUN9 News reporter Kevin Keen asked superintendent Dr. John Pedicone, “When you look ahead to the next year, what is your number one concern?”
 
“We've got to manage this financial deficit and, hopefully, do it in a way that makes us stronger,” he answered, calling it "the most daunting issue."
 
Stronger -- despite a $17 million shortfall and 11 closing schools in the district.
 
Pedicone talked about the many challenges the district faces in front of the School Community Partnership Council Monday evening at Tucson Magnet High. Those challenges include staffing cuts because of the shortfall.
 
“Where we've been fairly generous with things like librarians at the elementary school, we're unfortunately going to have to look at what we can do to cut back on some of the funding and still not lose the support and libraries,” Pedicone told KGUN9.
 
In the audience, listening especially closely: district employee Vivian Chilton. Her elementary school will keep its doors open, but she worries about the district being able to keep quality, experienced teachers with its slashed budgets.
 
“I'm hoping that things will work out because it's all about the children and their education,” the Vesey Elementary community representative said.
 
Pedicone addressed those concerns.
 
“I would say to any parent that we're making hard decisions, but we're making them with an eye on what we can do to not reduce the opportunities for kids,” he told KGUN9.