The Columbus City Schools' board held a special meeting Wednesday night, to hear about revised recommendations to the list of possible budget cuts necessitated by reduced state funding.
Alison Holm reports.
Incorporating feedback and suggestions made by the public in a series of meetings last week, Academic Director Alesia Gillison recommended taking a number of positions off the table for possible cuts, including 8 teachers at the Downtown High School, 8 intern coordinators, 16 leadership interns, staff training to become principals, two resource counselors, and 5 teachers on special assignment. Instead of the original proposal to cut 163 full-time positions, district officials propose cutting only 61. In addition, Interim superintendent John Stanford suggested shifting the plans to add staff made during the district last levy campaign could also save a significant amount.
“We will still keep the promises made during the levy to add a total of 324.5 positions over five years. In fact, nearly half were added in the first two years. The remaining 182 positions will still be added within the five year promise. And we will only add those positions sooner if there is a pressing need, or if our financial need changes.”
Stanford says delaying adding those positions will put an additional $15 million back in the district’s general fund. Although treasurer Stan Bahorek pointed out that back loading the hiring process means the districts projected deficit for the fifth year of the fiscal forecast, fiscal year 2021-22 will be even larger than currently projected.
Stanford also recommended taking cuts to the the numbers of uniformed school resource officers in the schools off the table, in light of recent school shootings and threats around the country.
“Now is not the time, given what’s been happening, to think about reducing the uniformed officers in our schools.”
The board’s deadline for making tough budget decisions is fast approaching. Board members hope to make hiring decisions by next Tuesday’s meeting, and decide the scope of other cuts by mid-March.