Cuts loom for CW schools

Big cuts could be in the future for Canal Winchester Local Schools if voters reject a 7.9 mill levy at the polls in November.

The Canal Winchester Board of Education unanimously approved the list of proposed reductions in staffing and busing as well as fee increases during its Sept. 17 meeting.

Growth, escalating costs, and the state funding formula were key factors cited by Treasurer Joyce Boyer in a projected $3 million-plus deficit in 2008-09 unless the district gets an infusion of additional funds.

According to the district, the deficit is based on projections and, as the actual year-end balance is determined, there may be changes-increases or decreases-in the total dollar amount that needs to be reduced from the budget.

Recommended reductions, which would save the district nearly $3.6 million, include:

•Elimination of high school busing.

•Eliminate 10 projected teaching positions and increase class size.

•Reduction of 10 certified staff positions.

•Eliminate the gifted department and three employees.

•Increase pay-to-play fees from $70 to $140.

•Reduce supplemental contracts.

•Eliminate 12 assistant varsity coaching positions.

•Cut 10 classified aide positions and five-and-a-half projected classified positions.

•Reduction of six classified staff members.

•Cut textbook adoption in half.

•Eliminate in-school suspension at the high school and middle school.

If the deficit is not as large as anticipated, present certified and classified staff would be the first areas not to be cut.

"Because forecasts and budget reductions are based on projections, we could be looking at fewer cuts or more cuts," stated Superintendent Kim Miller-Smith in a staff statement. "We will continue to look for savings."

Boyer said the bottom line is the district will not cut something if it absolutely does not have to do so, but it still needs to be prepared to take action if the levy fails.

"This is not an easy thing to do," said Boyer, "and it’s evolving constantly. We don’t do this in a vacuum. We have a new captain on board (Miller-Smith) and she is reviewing all of the purchase orders. We have always scrutinized things, but we are even more thoroughly evaluating each and every expenditure. It helps when you bring in a new set of eyes."

Generating $3.2 million a year, the levy’s extra millage would cost the owner of a $100,000 an additional $241.94 in taxes. According to Boyer, homeowners now pay, on average, $726.73 in general operating taxes to the school district.

Although projections show Canal Winchester ending the present school year with a positive balance, without supplemental revenue, the district could end the 2008-09 school year with a deficit of over $3 million, dive further into the red the following year, and conclude the 2010-11 with a potential $14 million shortfall. With the proposed levy, the district could stay solvent for another four years.

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