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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Dozens of parents showed up to a community meeting Monday night about Greater Clark County Schools' strategic plan.

At the core of some parents' and employees' worries is a cost-cutting measure that would do away with certified teachers for the related arts, which includes art, music, technology and P.E.

Instead, the plan would call for district to hire "classified specialists," workers who are not licensed teachers and would make $17 an hour.

Some parents expressed concerns Monday with possible turnover rates and classroom safety.

Requirements for the specialists would be an associates degree and real-life experience in the special area. They would also be trained by the district.

The move would save Greater Clark about $1 million.

"We're not trying to slight teachers," said Mark Laughner, superintendent of GCCS. "We believe we can still provide a high-quality service to our students at a cost savings to the district and maybe free up some money to do other things."

This would not mean cutting teachers or any forced layoffs. Affected teachers would be reassigned elsewhere in the district.

The move would cut spending in the district's education fund, which Laughner said is currently around $2 million below its ideal amount. At the same time, the strategic plan calls for more than $11 million in athletic facility upgrades.

"It takes money to make money, and it takes money to have nice facilities," said parent Mike Adams, who supports the plan.

Laughner said many of the proposed athletic improvements were cut from the budget in 2008, leaving facilities like the pool at Charlestown Middle School to sit in disrepair.

The district said it has received some questions from community members about why it wants to cut spending from its education fund while spending more on facility improvements.

"Those two funds are completely different, and they're funded completely differently," said Laughner. "You can't take money from one and put it in the other."

Facility improvements must come out of the district's debt service fund, which is funded by property taxes. The education fund, which pays for teachers, is state-funded, and based on student enrollment. 

Greater Clark says its enrollment numbers have declined by a thousand students recently.

Other feedback sessions will be held at 7 p.m. throughout this week:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 24, at New Washington Middle/High School
  • Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Charlestown High School
  • Thursday, Sept. 26, at Jeffersonville High School

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