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CCS Continues Public Conversation On Budget Cuts; Eliminates One Superintendent Candidate

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Alison Holm
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The Columbus Board of Education announced Tuesday night the search for a new superintendent has narrowed to two candidates; acting superintendent John Stanford and Akron Schools superintendent David James.

 

Former district deputy superintendent Keith Bell, who was still in the running last week, was eliminated without comment. Stanford and James, a 25-year veteran of the Akron school system, will introduce themselves and take questions from the public in upcoming meetings. The new superintendent will face the prospect of drastic cuts in programs and personnel, as the district struggles with significantly lower state funding. Officials are turning to the public in a series of meetings this week, asking for help prioritizing over 20 million dollars worth of budget cuts. Alison Holm has more from last nights meeting at Marion-Franklin High School on the south side.  

After the regular school board meeting Tuesday, nearly 50 people took part in what the district bills as a public conversation on budget cuts. Academic Director AlesiaGillison says it’s a different approach than past budget cuts, when the district went to the public after a plan was formulated.

 

“So this is an opportunity for our community members to come out and say: ‘okay, I know that we have to reduce this amount here, but have you thought about how we might be able to take it from here?’ Or there are some things that we may think are very important o the community, and the community might very well say, ‘no, that’s not important to us; this program right here is important to us.’ Folks still come in with their agenda, because they’re worried about their program and their kids, but then they start looking at other things.”

 

Scanning the oversized posters detailing the possible cuts and the potential dollars saved, Yolanda Talley said she’d like more information about why the district is recommending some cuts over others.

 

“We see the areas, we see the amounts; but what was the rationale. Were these funds not being utilized, or were they highly utilized but just high cost items?”

 

Cassandra Patterson, also of the south side, says she’d like to see more information about possible partnerships.

 

“Columbus has a lot of business here, we have a lot of big corporations that are here, and have we looked at how we can partner, how they can come and help with some of this. We’re the largest district in the state of Ohio and we can’t get somebody to come and help us with some of these things? C’mon… I don’t understand that.”

 

Information and suggestions collected at the public conversations will be collated and presented to the board, which has a mid-March deadline to decide on over $20 million dollars in cuts. Additional meetings are being held this evening at Columbus’ Africentric Early College, and Thursday at Starling Pre-K-8. The district is also taking comments online, via email and at the ESL hotline, 614 365-8972.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.
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