Parents voice concerns over upcoming school budget cuts

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools is facing nearly $30 million in budget cuts in the upcoming fiscal year, so Supt. Dr. Bernard Taylor is sounding the alarm to his principals and telling them to trim the fat, but parents at one school are not at all happy about what it means for their children.

Emotions ran high at the Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts Tuesday night, as many on hand questioned Principal Mark Richtermann's decision to cut two positions, including the school's full-time art teacher.

"By no means are we not going to teach art at this school," said Richtermann.

Richtermann explained he had to cut 8 percent, or just over $120,000, out of his budget and added the choice was not an easy one.

"I have the responsibility of running this school and yes, I think I know best where the cuts should be and how we can maintain the quality of our program," Richtermann explained.

He said classroom teachers will be charged with teaching arts next year but many parents in the audience said that is an added task those teachers don't need.

"It is a foolish and disrespectful choice to put additional burden on those classroom teachers," said Niel Cheong.

Others voiced concerns that removing a permanent and trained art teacher contradicts one of the primary reasons so many of the students attend the school in the first place.

"They're the core of what this school is about and that's why I'm fighting to keep that here and not have it sort of chipped away at," Jessica Eberhard added.

"Just know that I promise I will do my very best to make this work this year and I appreciate all your responses," said Richtermann.

The budget cuts at the Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts and other schools in the district will not become official until the school board approves the general fund budget.

The new fiscal year begins on July 1.

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