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Public to School Board: Keep Our Programs

District and teachers say they're working toward same goal.

Easton Area teachers and school board members say they have the same goal: balancing the budget without cutting jobs or programs.

"We have yanked reductions off the table," board President Kerry Myers said at Thursday's board meeting, referring to the that a vote on a plan that would lay off teachers would not be taken that night.

"We are working together in one direction to keep everyone employed, keep the doors open," he said.

Glenda Kellow, of the Easton Area Education Association -- the teachers union -- was as conciliatory.

"We’re hoping that we can continue to work together toward an agreement that works out for both parties," she said.

Earlier this month, the district presented a plan to save nearly $15 million through laying off , which would mean the end to a variety of different programs. Athletics would lose about $1.3 million, while the Easton Area Public Library would say goodbye to $1.2 million, which is nearly all of its funding.

All of these things were on people's minds at Thursday's meeting, which was moved to Easton Area High School in anticipation of a large crowd.

Melissa Bilza, an eighth grader, framed her comments around the "Educating for Life's Journey" slogan on the district website.

"My life is not going to go on a journey," if the cuts happen, Bilza said. 

Her remarks took on an angrier note, as she wished for "qualified leaders who could function without running this district into the ground."

That comment got applause from the audience and anger from Myers.

"This is going to be a respectful discussion," he said. "If you're going to get nasty, I'm going to cut you off."

Jeffrey Hotz, of College Hill, pleaded with the board not to cut funding to the  library

“You’ll be hurting the poor, the working class and the middle class of this community," Hotz said. "It’s a vital resource."

He asked for a show of hands from board members in support of the library, but Myers said that wasn't going to happen.

Also Thursday, the board voted to accept an agreement by the district's transportation union workers to take a pay freeze for the 2011-2012 school year. A representative from the union told the board that all but three members agreed to the deal.

Tim Reilly, the board's liaison to the Intermediate Unit, said non-union workers there have agreed to a wage freeze for next year as well. 

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