The Columbus Board of Education wants to hear from you, as leaders in Columbus City Schools work to address the negative impacts of the State of Ohio's lack of full funding for education and potential budget reductions to address future deficits in the final years of the District's current five-year financial forecast.
TALK TO US: to provide your feedback, click here.
Join the Board of Education for a series of Community Forums to share your thoughts and concerns. District staff will be available to discuss proposed reductions and how they could impact the 2018-19 school year.
Monday, February 19 (6:00 - 8:00 p.m.)
Northland High School, 1919 Northcliff Dr.
Tuesday, February 20 (6:00 - 8:00 p.m.)
Marion-Franklin High School, 1265 Koebel Rd.
Wednesday, February 21 (6:00 - 8:00 p.m.)
Columbus Africentric Early College, 3223 Allegheny Ave.
Thursday, February 22 (6:00 - 8:00 p.m.)
Starling Pre-K-8, 145 S. Central Ave.
SHORTCHANGED IN STATE FUNDING
The State of Ohio continues to “short-change” the students of this District by capping state aid at an amount significantly less than what the state funding formula promises. The state funding cap now robs our District by as much as $110 million annually. That equates to all of our kindergarteners, first graders, second graders, third graders, and even some of our fourth graders essentially receiving no state funding.
This annual gap caused by the funding cap is the primary driver of a projected deficit in the fourth and fifth years of our current five-year financial forecast. The deficit in the fourth year of our forecast is $88 million, or just under 10% of our projected revenues. The deficit in the fifth year jumps to more than $224 million, almost 24% of our total projected revenues for that year.
To be clear: the District has been good financial stewards of its resources over the past several years. This financial stewardship - combined with voter support of the last levy - is keeping this District on the positive side of the accounting books for the first three years of the five-year forecast despite this major shortfall by the State.
To maintain future financial stability and address the $224 million deficit in year five of the financial forecast, the District has a responsibility to begin identifying budget targets and potential reductions.
The Administration initially identified approximately $21.5 million in potential budget reductions, which would take effect in the FY 19 Budget and impact the 2018-2019 school year. Overall, though, these proposed reductions are built around three action items:
* Reduce costs but don’t eliminate curriculum support to students and teachers.
* Reallocate District-level responsibilities and staffing positions back to the school-building level.
* Realign certain Operational services to minimum levels and certain Academic offerings to reflect mandated-only requirements.
In determining which proposed reductions to recommend, the District sought to protect key priorities of ensuring high-quality Pre-Kindergarten, grade-level reading proficiency, pathways to graduation, and continued school safety.
In reducing costs but not eliminating curriculum support, funding for several initiatives in Academic Services could be cut by 50% or more starting next school year. This includes reductions in funding for: instructional materials for social studies, biology, engineering, and science instruction; educational resources in our libraries; supplies for our Unified Arts and Physical Education programs; and a scaling back of new technology purchases such as Chomebooks. All of those subject matters and student activities will still be offered - none have been eliminated - yet they will receive dramatically-reduced District investment.
Reallocating what historically have been District-level responsibilities and staffing positions back to the school-building level, the District will now look to principals to identify resources within their building teams and budgets (which include more than General Fund dollars) to account for these needs. Most notable in this reallocation would be the proposed reduction in Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) who have traditionally coordinated curriculum such as Science, World Languages, Unified Arts, and Reading Recovery across buildings. This reallocation could also impact the number of TOSAs assigned to coordinate internships in our high schools.
Several proposed reductions realign many of our Operational services to minimum levels and certain Academic offerings to reflect only state-mandated requirements. Some of the action items under this effort include reduced mail runs, elimination of our Leadership Intern program, and minimized professional development. One major proposal that falls under this action item would be the realignment of Woodcrest Elementary back to a traditional calendar year instead of a year-round operation. We are also recommending a review of state-mandated requirements for graduation and realigning building-level staff to reflect those requirements, which will provide for opportunities to reduce teaching levels.
IMPACT TO STAFFING
In a District budget predominately driven by personnel expenses, reductions of this magnitude will certainly impact personnel numbers. In all, 163.5 FTE reductions have been proposed, which could partially be addressed through attrition. These proposed reductions would be a combination of certificated, classified, and administrator positions.
If enacted, these reductions would have an impact on the District’s services to our students and families, and these cutbacks would be felt in every school and neighborhood. But at the same time, these recommended reductions multiply over the course of the forecast and will significantly close or eliminate the projected deficit in the fourth year of our five-year forecast and have a measurable impact on the $3224 million deficit in year five.
Though tough, these reductions would be manageable, for now, thus providing the Board time to identify additional options to address the forecast, as well as work on improved future state funding with the Legislature and a new Governor next year.
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