Middle school classes cut due to budget shortfall - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Middle school classes cut due to budget shortfall

Rochester, MN (KTTC-DT) --

Last fall, a budget reduction committee had to find ways to make up a $4.5 million shortfall for the Rochester Public School district. Now the district is cutting some traditional Middle school classes: industrial tech and family consumer science.

Next year, there will only be three elective-type classes left for Rochester middle school students, computer science, Spanish, and art. It's bringing up the question, "Will our students be well-rounded enough."

Wood shop has been around for decades. The same with consumer science classes that teach students sewing, cooking, and other life skills. But no more...

"Some of my students don't know the tools in the kitchen. Some of my students don't know how to wash dishes," say Willow Creek Middle school Family Consumer Science teacher, Karen Atkinson.

Now parents will be responsible to teach nutrition, how to sew, or make a bookshelf. The problem? With so many people constantly working to make ends meet, some teachers fear the students won't be prepared.

"We're learning tablespoons, teaspoons and how to cook, just in case, like when we get older and we're in college and we're at a dorm or something," explains 7th grader Jonathon Miron.

"These students will go on to one day be in their own facilities, their own homes, preparing their own meals, if they don't know how to do this nutritiously, then we end up in the situation that we're in right now, which is one-third of our children are obese," says Atkinson.

A $4.5 million shortfall in the Rochester Public School district dictates that some classes can not continue.

"Anytime you're making reductions, we're talking about people and the staff here is getting along the best they can," says Jeff Elstad, the Willow Creek Middle School principal.

Kevin Newton has taught industrial tech for nearly 20 years. Whether or not he'll have a job next year is up in the air.

Now that school officials have notified teachers about these cuts, students are now starting to hear rumors about some of their favorite classes not being available next year.

"I don't want this class to be cut because I think it's fun for 7th graders," says student Kiana Ross.

"I think it's a pity that it's going away because it really helps kids realize about nutrition and teaches them life skills they'll need later," continues Miron.

In the end, the district's budget reduction committee says it's the best decision members could come up with in a terrible situation.

The budget reduction committee did take suggestions from the public and discussed the situation for about 4 months prior to their decision. Principal Elstad says he expects to hear some emotional reactions to the cuts.

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