District outlines possible cuts
Leaders of the South-Western City Schools District warn more cuts will come if voters reject Issue 47.
The plan to balance the budget was discussed at the Oct. 12 board of education meeting.
In the last three years, the district has made $22 million in budget cuts and eliminated 300 positions. After the levy defeat in May, the board of education voted to make $8 million in cuts, eliminating extracurricular activities, high school busing and over 60 positions.
They also shut down two schools and close each facility (except the Career Academy) shortly after the school day.
If voters approve the permanent 7.4-mill operating levy on Nov. 3, Deputy Superintendent Phil Warner said the district would reinstate only extracurricular activities, transportation services and building hours. Extracurriculars would be brought back with a pay-to-participate fee.
If Issue 47 fails, the budget reductions implemented in May will remain in place and $8 million more in budget cuts will be made for next year.
Over the next two years, the district would face $34 million in budget cuts.
“That’s about 600 positions, on top of the 300 already eliminated,” said Superintendent Bill Wise.
If voters reject the tax levy, Warner said the district would work with employee and community advisory groups to see where they could make an additional $3 million in immediate cuts.
“Some of these cuts would begin Jan. 4, when the students come back from break,” said Warner.
Warner explained that, with the failure of Issue 47, there would be about $600,000 in additional cuts in transportation. This would mean expanding walk zones further. They would also eliminate 55 instructional positions, 20 classified staff positions and 10 professional support staff positions.
In addition, the district would offer fewer electives and would eliminate two programs - Metro School and Mosaic Programs.
Wise said community members have told the district their main concern is academics and safety.
“Further reductions would impact the core academics and the safety and security of the students,” said Wise.
The superintendent said the district is not wasting money and there has not been one area untouched in these budget cuts.
He said if the levy fails again, “everything’s on the table.”
Board member Randy Reisling said he does not know how students and the district can succeed with even more staff cuts.
District Treasurer Hugh Garside also reported a state decrease in funding for the next two years. He explained school districts receive state funding on the number of students.
South-Western receives roughly $90 million each year from the state of Ohio.
Garside explained the district was slated to receive about $26 million additional state dollars over the next few years under Gov. Ted Strickland’s plan. However, the budget was capped and every district will see a reduction in state funds. South-Western will see approximately $1.1 million less over the next two years.
Reisling said, “It’s safe to assume the state situation will not improve as long as the economy struggles.”
Garside said the state is operating on a unsecured funding system, which includes lottery profits and federal stimulus funds. The federal funds are scheduled to be eliminated in 2012.