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Northgate slashes 23 teachers, 10 aides for next school year

| Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 12:27 a.m.

Despite impassioned pleas from scores of residents, students and alumni, the Northgate School Board on Monday voted to eliminate 23 teaching positions and 10 teachers' aides in the fall.

Superintendent Joseph Pasquerilla recommended the cuts to address a “significant” decrease in enrollment that has occurred over the past decade that threatens the district's financial health.

Some parents felt the elimination of so many positions will have a negative impact on the community.

“You wouldn't take a saw to the main support of your house, so why would you tear into the main support of your community?” said Jerome Lundy, 37, of Bellevue, one of the more than 400 people who showed up at a school board meeting that lasted nearly 3 12 hours.

“When you lose 23 teachers and 10 teaching assistants, you're cutting the support systems out of your schools. It wasn't a budget issue. They could have waited,” said Lundy, who has children in ninth, fifth and first grades and one who will enter kindergarten in the fall.

Pasquerilla said the district's enrollment has dipped from 1,644 pupils taught by a staff of 110 teachers during the 1995-96 school year to 1,211 students taught by 115 teachers.

“One of the great things about this district has been that teachers, students and parents really get to know each other,” said Christine Kubicky of Bellevue, who was one of the scores of people who spoke at Monday's meeting. “I don't think they (administrators) understand how intertwined our small communities are with the schools.”

Kubicky, who has children in fifth and seventh grades, thinks the board should tighten spending and even consider increasing taxes rather than cutting jobs.

Mike Bichko, a high school Spanish teacher and vice president of Northgate Education Association, said the union suggested the district offer an early retirement incentive to cut jobs through attrition.

“We feel that there were alternatives that should have been pursued and weren't,” Bichko said. “These cuts will damage the district. It's very disappointing.”

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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