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Regional Technical Institute Latest Victim of WCSD Budget Cuts

By: by Karen Todd, karen.todd@kolotv.com
By: by Karen Todd, karen.todd@kolotv.com

RENO -- Because of state budget constraints, the Washoe County School District may have to cut up to $23 million from next year's budget.

Thirty-eight items are slated to be cut, including a 20-percent cut to the Regional Technical Institute, also known as RTI.

The Graphics and Design Program and the Early Childhood Education programs are both slated to be cut. We spoke to a teacher who says she'll lose her job, as well as the parents of preschoolers who take advantage of the low-cost education young children get at RTI.

Parents say RTI is one of the best preschools in Reno.

"They get so much love and security and confidence," says Leslie Hutchens, the mother of a pre-schooler at RTI.

This center likely won't last long. After 16 years of teaching here, early childhood education teacher Marilyn Howard's contract isn't expected to be renewed.

"You think you have some stability," she said. "You think you have some reassurance that you'll have a job and a place if you've been there for 16 years."

Howard says the district is losing a valuable program, one that teaches her high school students life skills, like how to be good parents.

"Everyone thinks it's intuitive that we know how to raise children," Howard says. "It's not something you're born with."

Students say the program has helped them with these skills.

"You learn how to deal with the kids and how not to yell at them all the time," says student Lisa Harpe.

Parents say this class gives young children the skills they need to get a jump-start in kindergarten, and that letting Howard go is a great loss.

"She [Howard] has got 25 years of teaching experience," says Chris Moore, mother of a pre-schooler at RTI. "It's hard to find that and the love and care that she gives to each child."

Howard says she's concerned about the loss of her job, but she's even more concerned about the future of these kids.

"I know I'm doing a good here, not only with the preschoolers but with teenagers," she says. "So that's what's so hard; a great program is going to be lost."

If you'd like to speak out about any of the proposed program cuts in the district, you can do so Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Wooster High School.

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