Sweetwater students, parents and faculty speak out against proposed budget cuts

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- Students, parents and faculty from a couple of schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District came out by the dozens Monday to speak in favor of a number of programs they feared may be on the chopping block.

The school district has notoriously been under fire for its budget in the past and now among proposed budget cuts for upcoming years are changes to the beloved international baccalaureate and performing arts programs.

There were outbursts of cheers and claps as speaker after speaker spoke out to show their support for Bonita Vista High School’s international baccalaureate or IB program.

"This isn’t just about hard classes, tests and college credit. This is really about us developing something bigger and preparing students not just for college, but to be lifelong learners, people that are looking to make a difference," said Jared Phelps.

Others spoke in favor of the performing arts sticking around at Chula Vista High School.

"This program taught me how to be confident strong kind person," said Azul Diaz.

The room was packed and so was the list of those waiting their turn, each hoping to tell the school board just how much these programs and the people who run them mean to them.

"Mrs. Deborah Nevin Armstrong has been incredible asset to the SCPA program and I am sure everyone of our families has a story about how she has gone above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of our children," said one parent.

Future changes include possible restructuring of the programs and perhaps getting rid of the coordinator and director positions. For IB, that position is currently held by Jared Phelps, a Bonita graduate himself.

"The academic counseling, the support for a research writing, all of the things that make IB something that’s more than any other school has, without a dedicated coordinator that has time to devote to those things, even if the program exists, it won’t be what it is now," said Phelps.

The district has gone on record to say these programs will not be cut this school year and will likely be around next school year, but potential changes may affect current positions. For now, no final decisions have been made.

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