Columbia Heights schools approve cuts to music and PE programs

A budget battle within the Columbia Heights school district that ultimately led to cuts for programs like music and physical education is upsetting many parents who now worry how the cuts will affect their children. 

The school board voted unanimously to approve program and job cuts for the upcoming school year. More than a half dozen full-time staff jobs were cut, as the district faces a reduction in state funding and declining student enrollment. 

“For a school district that touts we have our hearts in the arts, yet the first thing to go is the arts—it doesn’t match up,” said Nell Bing, who was planning to enroll her daughter in the school district. 

Bing had planned to enroll her daughter at North Park Elementary, but said that could change with the cuts to art, music, band and physical education classes.

North Park parent Katie Hieggleke-Rogozke said she is upset that her fourth grade son’s special education teacher, who is being transferred, isn’t being replaced. 

“[This] leaves a whole population of vulnerable students without a confidante, without a teacher to go to when they need a little extra help,” said Hieggleke-Rogozke.

In a statement to Fox 9, the school district stated that it understands that these are very difficult decisions that affect everyone involved, but Bing isn’t convinced the district actually understands. 

“The community is hurt,” she said. “We feel that there’s a huge lack of transparency. We would have liked to have seen numbers, budgets, [and] alternate proposals.”