Decision to cut Band and Strings Spectacular based on budget woes - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

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Decision to cut Band and Strings Spectacular based on budget woes

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SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Public Schools made the decision to cut the Band and Strings Spectacular this year because it finds itself in deep financial trouble.  Administrators are dealing with a deficit of more than $10 million next year, caused by declining enrollment.  They also cite unfunded state mandates.

In January, Superintendent Brian Benzel, who recently resigned his post to join the Whitworth Leadership Team, began making proposals to save money.  His ideas included canceling the concert to save about $12,000, but also shutting down Pratt Elementary School on E. 4th Avenue in east Spokane.  The closure, according to Benzel, would save the district nearly half-a-million dollars.  He said it makes sense to close the school because of its age, location and declining enrollment.

But parents said the decision to close Pratt shouldn't be based on money alone.  Those who have attended meetings to discuss closing the school say Pratt should remain open because it is more than a school: it also serves the neighborhood as a community center.

Teachers, Librarians Stand to Lose Too
It isn't just parents and students who rely on Pratt Elementary School who may find themselves on the losing end.  Benzel has also proposed making other cuts, including replacing some teaching positions in the district with non-certified positions.

In addition, Benzel has proposed freezing all travel out of the district and reducing every department's entire budget by 5 percent, including schools' libraries.