Community concerns, budget woes

Last week the district held two community information meetings to share the recommendations that were presented to the Board of Education to balance the district’s $47.5 million deficit.

During the two meetings, nearly 50 citizens voiced concerns, asked questions, and shared their doubts, confusions and uncertainties. I appreciate the interest of the nearly 350 individuals who attended one— or both— of these meetings.

There are no easy answers to the District’s budget woes, so during this blog post I want to address some of the recurring messages I’ve heard around the district and during the community meetings.

First, having to make cuts is not a pleasant experience for anyone. The uncomfortable truth is that districts around the country face similar financial straits, so we have no choice but to take significant measures to put the district on a path of fiscal sustainability. Therefore, in order to avoid finding ourselves in a similar deficit situation next year, we chose to move beyond addressing the current $47.5 million deficit and recommended $73.9 million in permanent reductions.

Second, there’s no desire to lay off teachers. The reality is that the teacher population and teacher salaries are by far the largest part of the expense base of the district. The district’s enrollment has drastically declined over the past decade. For that reason, it’s necessary to address shifting personnel needs at the school building level and in the central office.

Third, school closings are a tough issue. I recognize that school buildings are more than bricks and mortar. Schools are an anchor in the community, an important element in the student’s and family’s life. The decision to close any school is never an easy one, but, again, to provide our students with a productive academic experience, we must align our facilities with continued declines in enrollment, which will produce needed cost savings in the areas of personnel, utilities and other operating costs.

This evening, the Board of Education is expected to vote on the recommendations put forth two weeks ago. In the coming days and weeks, look for new blog posts, information updates on the CMSD website and email communications for updates and progress.

I care very much about the kids of Cleveland. Together, we will put our district on a better financial path. I want to hear from you…What questions do you have? What concerns you the most? What suggestions do you have? Let this blog serve as a two-way communication vehicle where we can dialogue about what’s happening in our district. I look forward to your posts.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Community concerns, budget woes

  1. Patricia Lewis Sanders

    Your number one priority is to give our Cleveland children an enriching and quality education. Thank you for Campus International School. A wonderful addition to our district.
    We must education the whole child if we expect our city to grow and regain the competitive edge.

  2. Anita Howard

    Are these teachers that are to be laid off going to be called back or phased out? This is very disturbing. Everyone seems to be cutting back but I really hope that this is the last and only resort.

    • Thank you for your question, Anita.
      We are hoping to identify additional savings that we haven’t yet seen, which would allow a number of teachers to be called back. On the other hand, as district enrollment shrinks we must continue to right-size the district’s physical facilities and teacher population. So, it is unlikely that the district would call back all of the teachers.

  3. Joseph Amoth

    Unfortunately you are dooming many teachers to economic crisis. Ohio is one of the leading states in Teacher preparation programs. More and more teachers graduate each year with degrees in education. However, it is increasingly clear that these teachers will not be able to find a job within Ohio (more graduates than jobs available). Yet, that is not entirely true. Many Districts would rather hire an inexperienced college graduate because they can pay them a lower salary rather than hire an experienced teacher in which they have to pay a higher salary to. What are these experienced teachers with education degrees going to do??? Whether they are part of a Reduction in Workforce or a recent graduate, chances are they are not going to be gainfully employed in the State of Ohio. What are their career options? Shouldn’t something be done at the State level to limit the number of teachers trying to enter the workforce?? Of course not!! That would reduce the profits of the colleges, universities, and the Ohio Department of Education who make a killing off teachers and prospective teachers. The only option is to look for careers outside the State. I guarantee you that the CTU will tell it’s members that there are jobs available in North Carolina and Arizona (as they have during past RIF). However, most of these laid off teachers have families, are not necessarily the primary wage earner in the family, or are not financially equipped to relocate to other states. Not to mention that Teaching Licenses are State specific. Just because you have a Teaching Degree and a Teaching License from the State of Ohio doesn’t mean that you can go teach in another state. Many states will require teachers to add college classes to obtain a their state licensure (there is no National Teaching License–unfortunately Education is State based). How are you going to pay this “out of state tuition” (because you are technically a resident of Ohio still) without a job??? I really empathize with these 800+ employees. Unlike you, they can not afford to work for $1, nor can they relocate to any other state and work in their profession without incurring other costs. Shame on you for condemning them to this fate.

  4. Lisa Martin

    I am one of the teachers who was layed off. I would like to know what was the formula used for laying off staff members? I have been with Cleveland for 21 years and this is a very devasting experience for me. There are teachers with 30+ years who were layed off as well. While I am aware that everyone wants to keep their job, I cannot believe that our years of service mean nothing in the decision making process.