I remember the foreboding I felt when I read in the Dispatch about $29 million in cuts for C.C.S.
Then I saw Dr. Gene Harris’ letter, I sensed the pain in her words — and I felt the pain — as she wrote:
Clearly, to extract another $25 million from an already lean budget means that the majority of the impact is going to be realized through staff reductions – equaling more than 300 positions across all levels of the organization.
This is unquestionably a very difficult time. While these recommended reductions fulfill our need to save money, they most assuredly do not make us better or enable us to more effectively support our schools or students.
I now have seen some specifics, courtesy of the Columbus Education Association. in their March 11 issue of their newsletter, the Voice, they included a link to a PDF:
DRAFT – Columbus City Schools Recommended Budget Reductions for FY2014 – 3/5/2013.
- elimination of 5 regional GT coordinators
- elimination 2 High School Coordinators
- elimination 1 ECLIPSE Coordinator
- elimination of 1 Testing coordinator
- elimination of 1 Secretary
As one summary describes, “There will be no High School or Eclipse Coordinators remaining. There will be one Testing Coordinator that will be reassigned to the Office of Performance & Strategic Initiatives (OPSI). Redistribute work loads to remaining staff and Supervisor.” …
This will leave us with 28 GT positions, down from 55 a few years ago. Your favorite specialist may soon be be gone — or you’ll see him or her much less often.
And that’s only the specifically gifted and talented cuts! There is plenty of misery for all students with concurrent impact on GT kids.
- reduce a class period in middle and high schools. … a seven-period day
starting next school year. … seven years ago, (doing this) had a devastating effect on the academic program
and minimized opportunities for our students.
- cuts in arts, field trip transportation, library staff, athletics. … “Research shows that an
increase in physical activity and participation in the arts result in improved academic performance. We can expect a rise in discipline referrals and a decline in student attendance and achievement when these programs are cut.” even for gifted kids
I lay a lot of blame in this to the Columbus Dispatch, who made it impossible to pass a levy last November (during a general election), by their constant churning of the enrollment “scandal” story, as well as constantly hammering the Board, Dr. Harris, and everyone down to the custodial staff. … Add the uncertainty of the C.E.C. (“Mayor’s Commission”) sometimes seeming to work at cross purposes to the Board as the later seeks a new superintendent, and we have a
Now we need to deal with this ASAP, let our voices be heard, and seek ways to mitigate or reverse the impending damage. What can we do?
- We need a new superintendent ASAP — according to the Board’s original schedule. We cannot have C.C.S. under the care of an interim leader when action is needed. I do not believe the myth that we can’t get top people due to the “scandal.” On the contrary, we need strong leadership to resolve issues quickly, as well as deal with issues like this budget shortfall and the need to expedite a levy!
- We need a levy ASAP! Perhaps we could pass one in a Special Election?! We could cancel the cuts when it passes — or even hold off on them until such. (Implementing these cuts will irretrievably lose good teachers, as imperiled people accept positions elsewhere. They would be unavailable for reinstatement.) … We could press the board to seek an emergency levy. I’m sure Dr. Harris would fight for it until midnight on her last day … and a permanent successor would follow up.
- The truth is that cuts like this will hobble C.C.S. This could drive away superintendent candidates — as well as concerned parents of gifted and talented children, and many more.
Some of us (parents, teachers, administrators, Dr. Harris) have been working our tails off on the Task Force for the Future of Gifted and Talented, seeking to come up with some great ideas to extend and improve the programs at Columbus City Schools. These proposed budget cuts endanger everything.
We must fight.
What are your thoughts?
N.B. The amount of the shortfall roughly equivalent to the gap in funding expected from the state of Ohio.