12 Gary schools to close amid budget cuts

Board insists class sizes won't be affected
CHICAGO The $23 million budget cut is the biggest budget cut that Gary schools have ever faced. This comes at the same time the Gary schools are closing 12 schools due to declining enrollment.

The school board promises parents that all of this will not affect class size or services for students.

Gary schools are left with a huge deficit as a result of a property tax cut. Dozens of employees will lose their jobs, including teachers.

"Everyone's concerned because they want to know how they fit into this equation, and especially our younger teachers," said Foster Stephens, Gary Teachers Union.

The school board and Gary school superintendent say some of the cuts will come from 12 schools already slated to close because of declining enrollment.

Cuts will also come from eliminating certain classes. Because they are already taught in every subject, speech and African-American history now become electives rather than requirements.

"It is embedded in our curriculum, so they won't be missing very much," said Dr. Mary Steele-Agee, Gary school superintendent.

Despite the layoffs, the school board insists class sizes will not be affected.

"We were very careful not to cut out the teachers that would be necessary to maintain smaller class sasses. And those support services like counselors and social workers, they need it for our students," said Nellie Moore, Gary school board president.

Meantime, the teachers union is hoping the board will save some teaching jobs by offering buyouts.

"What I'm hoping is that the corporation will give some type of incentive for older teachers. And the biggest problem older teachers is insurance. So we can get some type of insurance compensation, maybe we could save some of the younger teachers," said Stephens.

The teachers union is hoping to meet with the school board and the school superintendent to work out some type of buyout plan.

In the meantime, these cuts will go into effect next school year.

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