HAZLE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – It’s back to the drawing board for leaders in the Hazleton Area School District. Officials hoping to save some bucks by cutting the number of school days this year were in for a disappointment when the Pennsylvania Department of Education recently denied their request.
“It was one strategy we were pursuing to close at the time a $10 million budget gap for this school year,” said Superintendent of Schools Craig Butler. He found out Thursday state officials would not allow the district to go from five-day school weeks to four from December through February.
The change would have applied to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education says schools in the commonwealth are obligated to provide 180 days of instruction. But the Hazleton school board thought its proposal could qualify for an exception.
“It was based on the fact that we not only meet, but far exceed the required number of instructional hours,” said Butler.
In a statement, the department of education says, “It may grant limited exceptions…when warranted by a meritorious educational program. However, after careful review, the secretary did not find that The Hazleton Area School District’s request for an exception was warranted.”
District officials are now forced to find alternative ways to save money. But they aren’t clear as to how yet. Jim Spina says he hopes the district is able save without negatively impacting students, including his grandson. Spina is against 4-day school weeks.
“I just feel that the student may get himself in trouble at home, if left unattended,” he said.
Butler says the district’s next steps will be to look to see if there is any unexpected revenue coming in that they could use to save more money. The district is currently using more than a million dollars from its savings to fund this school year.