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Columbus schools could face teacher cuts
Columbus City Schools Chief Financial Office Michael Kinnear announced during his five-year forecast at the Oct. 16 board meeting that if the current trends continue, 60 teaching positions may have to go unfilled or be eliminated.
The actual number of students that have transferred from Columbus to other schools has gone down from 3,000 to 1,500 students in recent years, according to Kinnear's forecast, which is better news for the district than in years past, but may still not be enough for the future.
Michael Straeghter, district spokesman, said that if it becomes necessary, more than likely the district will make up for the difference through attrition.
"As people leave or retire you just don't fill that position unless it's pretty high in demand, such as there's a shortage of math teachers, science teachers, foreign language teachers," said Straeghter.
Straeghter said 60 positions is a little more than one percent of their total number of teachers, which is a total of 4125 regular teaching positions and 903 substitute positions, less than the district's normal staffing turnover rate.
Straeghter said he is unaware of any state standard for the student-teacher ratio, but the district itself sets its own standards.
"Internally we have a contract with the Teachers' Association of limiting class sizes no more than 30 students per teacher. The largest ratio will be 30-to-1 but realistically it typically comes out to about 25-to-1," said Straeghter.
The Ohio Department of Education was not available for comment on state student-teacher ratios at press time.
Straeghter said this issue of whether or not to reallocate staff would not be reviewed until the summer months.
"It's disruptive to start moving teachers around and have staff reduced once the school year gets started. Just like we want our students in class the first day of school, we want that teacher that'll be there all the way throughout the year," said Straeghter.
Straeghter also said Kinnear's forecast shows progress for the district.
"There's just numerous initiatives that have been introduced over the last several years, and we've seen our graduation rate jump up 20 points just within the last five years alone, so that definitely shows academic progress," said Straeghter.
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