Students met with Eyewitness News to talk about efforts a day earlier to convince the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board to restore funding to the speech and debate program. It's unknown who recommended the program lose all of its district-supported financing. The team draws a third of its budget from the district. Nobody associated with the speech and debate team knew that the district zapped all of the program's funding.
Ruth Borland, a moderator, said she received a call from a district business manager around noon on Monday. She was told the program had lost its funding. Borland said the call was out of the blue, adding that she had pursued the district earlier in the summer inquiring about the budget and had never received an answer.
Phone calls and text messages quickly went out to student members. Soon, dozens began making plans to attend the Monday evening school board meeting. With limited space, students and parents crammed into the tight meeting room and launched myriad questions about the program's loss of funding.
After two hours, Maryanne Toole, board president, abruptly canceled the rest of the meeting and cleared out the meeting room. Most were left hanging in the lobby, while school board members remained behind in the meeting room, according to students.
Those students said board members appeared unfazed by pleas to reverse the budget ax.
Messages left for Toole were not returned.
The school board meeting is now rescheduled for 2 p.m. Friday.