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HAZLETON - In under a month, school will be in session once again. Though earlier this summer, the school board approved four day school weeks for December, January, and February; with Mondays being completely dropped. In addition to that, Kindergarten half days were also passed.
However, not everyone is too pleased with the changes.
Pennsylvania State Representative, Tara Toohil, is vocal in being against Kindergarten half days.
Toohil is suggesting to the board that they should cut all arts to have kindergarten go back to full day instead.
The Hazleton Headlines spoke with a student of the Hazleton Area High School, Maria Flowers.
Maria's going to be a senior at the start of this school year, and she plans on double majoring in music education and performance.
Maria thinks that, "kindergarten going down to half a day is our best option."
She went on to say, "Me being a senior in high school and planning on double majoring in music education and performance, I can honestly say that this option would keep kids dreams and future careers in tact and avoid dozens of teachers from being laid off."
Maria does make a vital point in recognising the number of teachers that would be laid off as a result to arts being cut.
The last school board meeting before the start of school is Tuesday, August 16th at 6pm in the Large Group Instruction Room of the Career Center.
“The sole purpose of this meeting is to reconsider the vote to reduce kindergarten classes to half a day,” said Toohil.
“The community is not prepared for this large cut to education. It will further diminish the education of an already impoverished and struggling group of children.”
**UPDATE (Saturday 13th 2016 - 4:00 PM)**
On Friday, the Hazleton Headlines published an article claiming that PA State Representative, Tarah Toohil spoke with the Standard Speaker, suggesting that the HASD school board cut art and music so that Kindergarten could have full day classes, rather than half day ones.
However, those claims weren't entirely true.
On August 11th, the following statement was published in that day's edition of the Hazleton Standard Speaker newspaper:
"While Toohil continues to search for additional funds in Harrisburg, realistically keeping kindergarten for this academic year would require the district to hire 18 teachers and take some $1.5 million out of its general fund. Another alternative would be cutting arts and music programs, which would involve an 11th-hour furlough of teachers, which Toohil acknowledges would also be unpopular and problematic."
The statement led the public - including myself - in believing that Tarah Toohil suggested arts be cut, as well as music programs.
That is not the case.
While it's unclear who specifically proposed the idea, and why the Standard Speaker printed their idea, we can definitely confirm that Tarah Toohil doesn't wish for that to happen.
To make herself even more clear, we'll be conducting an exclusive, sit-down interview with Toohil early next week on HazletonHeadlines.com.
I, Lucas D. Wood, on behalf of the Hazleton Headlines, would like to apologize for not being entirely accurate in our initial article. We pride ourselves being a creditable source for local news, and we work hard every day in backing up our mission statement.
In light of this, we feel even greater compelled to restate our mission statement:
"Mark Twain is noted for saying: 'If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.' Unlike your typical newspaper, the Hazleton Headlines is committed to informing it's readers with factual information. We don't taint our news stories with exaggerated details or flawed specifics. But instead, we were founded upon the beliefs that all news - even if it be good or bad - deserves to be read in it's authentic structure. We don't concern ourselves with what 'sells.' It's about morals, not money."