BLANCHESTER — A vote to cut staff has left many saddened and frustrated.
During Monday’s Blanchester School Board meeting, high school math teacher Andy Hamm spoke on behalf of the Blanchester Education Association.
“The cuts that you’ll be voting on this evening are a direct result of the failed levy that many of you, sitting in front of me, failed to support. Two of you voted against it, one of you rallied people against it, one of you frankly told people, ‘It’s not my job to pass a levy’,” said Hamm to board members.
He also blamed the board for not controlling the district’s finances so these cuts wouldn’t happen.
“You’ve obviously failed to do this; now teachers, students and the future of this community are being punished,” said Hamm.
He asked the board if they had looked at every possible department where cuts could be made
Board President Kyle Wilson advised they had.
“I can confidently say, ‘Yes’,” said Wilson.
Board member Jeremy Kaehler advised that even if the levy had passed, it would’ve been “Band Aid solution” for the schools. This would mean another levy would need to be put before voters and passed, according to Kaehler.
Hamm told the News Journal he was saddened by the vote.
“I think many things weren’t given the due diligence given their reactions during the discussion,” said Hamm.
Hamm also feels the board blamed the voters by saying the board was doing “what the voters wanted.”Hamm felt that the public was not well informed on the levy due to some board members being against it.
“I think Blanchester, with the right information, would step up and support us,” said Hamm, adding he believed if the board had done something years ago it would’ve fixed some things.
“They don’t want to put a Band Aid up but they’ve made cuts the last five years and we have not made enough revenue,” he said. “If it’s a combined team effort from our board, it’ll happen. This decision affects our community and the only way we’ll get out of it is if we work together.”
He told the News Journal the union would want another levy on the ballot, but it would need to be approved by the board.
Nicholas Lansing, the BHS Class of 2019 valedictorian and currently a University of Virginia student, spoke at the meeting about how important many of the classes — in particular, foreign language — were to obtain an honors degree. Lansing felt taking foreign language courses online wouldn’t have the same benefits.
He too was disappointed in the board’s decision and felt the concerns he and Hamm mentioned were not addressed to him.
“It was clear that the school board had not researched how this was going to affect kids in the high school nor did they understand how the academic honors diploma from the high school works,” Lansing told the News Journal. “After the vote, I don’t see a future for kids who want to attend college. As a result, many of my younger friends who would have been valedictorian have opened applications for open enrollment, including my brother.”
He told the News Journal he hopes the best for Blanchester, but after the cuts, he doesn’t “see a future for kids
Before the vote, each member of the board and Superintendent Dean Lynch expressed their regret in voting in favor of it.
“I hope it’s not permanent. This being a mandate from the state doesn’t make it easier,” said board member John Panetta.
“I’m sick to my stomach,” said board member Mike Williams.
Lynch hopes future adjustments will lead to the laid-off staff members coming back and the district moving forward.