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Harrisburg School District to cut more than 50 jobs

More than 50 Harrisburg School District employees may lose their jobs after the board is forced to make substantial cuts.

The board says the district’s $8 million deficit was years in the making.

School board members tell us their hands were tied in making some difficult decisions.

Tthe board voted 7-2 in favor of the latest version of the budget, which eliminates 50.5 jobs, in turn saving the district more than $4 million.

The budget also includes a tax increase, which on average would cost a family $43 extra per year.

That will give the district an extra $1.4 million to work with.

In total, these two changes will add about $5 million to help close the gap.

"We don’t want our community to lose positions, we don't want our children to be hurt. We want to do what we need to do for our district to be strong. It’s not going to be easy, and like I said, not everyone is going to be happy. But this is something that we have to do.," said Danielle Tobinson, VP Harrisburg City School District.

But among those in the packed meeting were several teachers there to fight for their colleagues.

One teacher we spoke with says some positions on the chopping block include assistant principals and guidance counselors, and she believes the cuts should be made elsewhere.

"I just feel there could have been more cuts in central administration. There are some that I did notice, but I just feel we can’t cut it where the children are involved because that’s what a school district is all about. We’re here for the children. So if we don’t have the people here helping the children, what’s going to be their future?" said Mary Beth Krankowski, a 2nd grade teacher.

The budget was required to be voted on by the end of May, so a decision had to be made tonight.

We are told several people from the board went to the capital last week to push for more funding, noting this is a severely underfunded school district, and many people in the district lines are in poverty.

There were talks of changing kindergarten from full day to half day, which sparked outrage at a meeting in the beginning of the month.

That option has since been taken off the table, and kindergarten will remain a full day of school.