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.