CROSBY -- Nearly the entire student body at Crosby-Ironton High School walked out of school just after lunch Tuesday in protest of proposed teacher and program cuts.
The walkout came after Crosby-Ironton School Board members on Monday tabled a decision to accept the estimated $259,000 in budget cuts until its April 24 board meeting. Several positions are proposed in the cuts.
Students said school administrators, including Superintendent Bill Makinen, stood inside the building with their arms crossed in front of the main school doors in an intimidating manner in an effort to prevent the hundreds of students from leaving school around 12:45 p.m.
Students walked around them. Once they exited the school, students stood on the grass outside the high school, cheering "Go C-I Go" and carrying handmade signs that read, "Honor," "Respect," "Decency," and "Honesty."
Kelly Uglem (left), Abby Brauch and Troy Caddy displayed handmade signs in support of their teachers and school staff outside Crosby-Ironton High School Tuesday.
The walkout ended about 40 minutes later after teacher's union representatives thanked them for their support and said their statement had been heard by school administrators. Despite the crowd's chanting of Makinen's name, demanding that he address students, none of the school administrators walked outside during the walkout. Science teacher and lead teacher's negotiator Stan Nagorski said school administrators requested that teacher's union representatives go outside and coax students back into the building.
School administrators did not return phone calls to The Brainerd Dispatch Tuesday afternoon or this morning.
"We're just trying to get the community to see that we have a great program and great teachers here and we don't want to see them leave," explained senior Molly Ravnik. "Our teachers are upset and it affects us in school."
Senior Shelly Neprud said she was angry at how teachers were told their positions were in jeopardy, or on the list of proposed cuts. One of her teachers was in tears during class this past Friday because she was told shortly before the class started that she was going to lose her job, she said.
"Just about all of our teachers said, 'Go for it,'" Neprud said of the walkout.
"The teachers should be out here with us because we're supporting them," said senior Brian Nelson.
"I'm in support of what they're doing," said Lori Howe, a high school band director whose position is one of the proposed cuts. She joined students outside during the 40-minute walkout. "The students are outraged at the district's mismanagement and how they're taking it out on the staff."
"The main reason why we're doing this is for the teachers," said senior David Bade. "And so the younger generation can have what we have now."
"I'm against this," said Bob Kuschel, a high school chemistry-physics teacher and president of the teacher's union. "I talked a lot of my students out of (walking out). I've talked about other alternatives and hopefully they'll talk to their parents and they'll talk to school board members. Hopefully we can do something in the long term that'll have greater impact."
"We the teachers are trying our hardest to deal with this situation facing our school," school counselor Dan Cruser told the protesting students. "Your statement has been made. Your presence is a dominant statement."
"It's good to see the support," Nagorski said as students reluctantly began walking back into the school building. "I guess they have to do what they have to do. The ones who are hurt through this whole process are the kids."
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