Woodland Hills teachers, staff plan protest at board meeting | TribLIVE.com

Woodland Hills teachers, staff plan protest at board meeting

Michael DiVittorio

Woodland Hills School District teachers, paraprofessionals and related staffers plan to have a silent demonstration at a school board meeting Wednesday.

Representatives of the Woodland Hills Education Association and Woodland Hills Educational Service Professionals also plan to speak at the voting meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the administration building at 531 Jones Ave. in Braddock.

Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesman Matt Edgell said it’s in response to the board’s actions with the 2019-20 budget, specifically cutting at least 60 staff members.

Edgell said cuts included counselors, social workers, custodians and teachers, which have resulted in larger class sizes and a lack of support for students and professionals.

“We want to draw attention to the issues that face the students and the staff,” Edgell said. “To make sure that the school board and the superintendent know that these are issues that are simply not going to be solved without some major input from the folks who are on the front lines.

There needs to be a level of trust reestablished between the community and the folks that work in the buildings and the administration.”

Woodland Hills ESP President Brian Johnson believes the demonstration will show unity and a need for change.

“A lot of what was done to help students and staff is hurting them instead,” he said. “This has to change.”

School board member Michael Belmonte said he’s aware of the planned demonstration.

“I’m fine with it,” he said. “I think teachers, if they feel strongly about something, should feel comfortable doing something like that, showing support for their colleagues.”

He said the district had to make tough decisions with about a fifth of its budget going to charter schools and about $10 million toward pensions.

“The funding in Pennsylvania (school districts) is so unfair,” he said.

The meeting’s agenda was posted on the district’s website, www.whsd.net, via “Board Docs” under the school board tab.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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