CW schools to face staff cuts

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April 15 is tax deadline for the nation, but for Canal Winchester Local Schools administrators, it is also the deadline in determining staff cuts due to the failure of the 8.9 mill operating levy March 4.

At the March 17 Canal Winchester Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Kimberly Miller-Smith said, in accordance with a master agreement with the local teachers’ union, the district is required to make a decision on which positions will be eliminated for 2008-09 by the middle of next month.

"In terms of cuts, there are some positions moving around and there will be some cuts," stated Miller-Smith. "For personnel purposes, we’re committed to the April 15 date for suspended contracts."

When asked about plans for the future, Miller-Smith said, while administrators have focused much of their recent time and effort on adjusting to budget restraints, they also need to continue addressing academic concerns.

"As a management team, we’re taking a look what we have right now to meet student needs," she said. "For the next months out, we’re focusing on the instruction issues of school."

While the board did not discuss when they will return to the ballot, board member Stan Smith said the district needs to ask itself if it can continue with what it can afford today and hope for additional revenue in the future, or consider the possibility of making reductions now to state minimum levels and save money for future expenses.

Miller-Smith replied Canal Winchester is not that far above state minimum mandates at the present time.

Prior to the March primary, the district took steps to keep schools solvent for 2007-08 and cut over $3 million from the budget for the upcoming school year. Bus routes were consolidated and field trips and professional development opportunities eliminated. One million dollars in cuts were made prior to the start of the school year, with an additional $700,000 slashed from the budget.

Recommended reductions include eliminating: high school busing; 10 projected teaching positions; the gifted department and three employees; 12 assistant varsity coaching positions; In-School Suspension at the high school and middle school; 10 classified aide positions, five-and-a-half projected classified positions, and six classified staff positions.

Proposed changes also include increasing class size, doubling pay-to-play fees, reducing supplemental contracts, and cutting textbook adoption in half.

Bus stop woes

Although bus routes were consolidated in February, Pamela Rose, the parent of an elementary school student, continued her effort to have a Winchester Lakes development bus stop changed due to safety concerns. She reported a sexual predator lives in the area, a child was almost hit by an auto, and horseplay by students is an issue.

In a letter to Miller-Smith, Rose said on Feb. 14 a child was missed by inches in being hit by a car while crossing the road to board a school bus on Winchester Lakes Boulevard and Katelyn Drive. On Feb. 19, children were standing on the curb on both sides of the street as cars slid past on icy roads. Rose said the school bus also slid while trying to pick up students.

"On Feb. 29, the children waiting for the bus were out of control," continued Rose. "They were pushing, wrestling, and throwing snowballs. Due to the fact that the sidewalk does not extend to Winchester Lakes Boulevard, the children were on the property of the house that sits on the corner. This type of behavior appears to be the result of too many children, as well as the age range difference of the children who are waiting for the bus."

Rose estimated at least 30 students, ranging in age from five to 11, gather at the bus stop in the morning. In addition, she said when the stop was changed from Winchester Lakes Boulevard and Winshire Drive to Winchester Lakes Boulevard and Katelyn Drive so children would not have to walk close to the residence of the sexual predator, it only switched which children walk close to the house, but did not eliminate the situation.

"They just traded off one set of kids crossing by the sexual predator for another group," stated Rose. "We’re asking the district to add one bus stop and change the location."

However, Miller-Smith said the answer is not simple because of factors such as tight maneuvering for buses due to cars parking on both sides of the street and increased traffic with parents dropping off students at the bus stop.

"It is in the Columbus jurisdiction and we’d like to have the Columbus Police Department look into it," reported Miller-Smith. "It’s congested with parking on both sides of the street and we want to see what ideas and suggestions CPD has for making the stop safer."

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