CUYAHOGA FALLS -- The head of the city school district is proposing the reduction in force of 24 teachers as part of a plan to save approximately $2 million.
Dr. Todd Nichols, superintendent of the Cuyahoga Falls City School District, shared his cost-cutting plan with the Board of Education during its regular meeting May 3 in front of an audience primarily made up of teachers wearing their schools' colors.
Nichols' plan is to eliminate by the start of the next school year four certified positions in the elementary schools, 12 in the middle schools and eight at the high school, for a total savings of $1.39 million. He also proposes making $426,922 in cuts to classified staff and supplemental contracts, among other measures.
"This is every superintendent's worst nightmare," Nichols said. The superintendent's plan also calls for new or increased fees for technology, sports, band and other activities, and increasing the distance before bussing starts to eliminate two routes.
Savings to the budget would total $1.98 million, Nichols said.
"I don't want to eliminate the classes that we teach because it's opportunities for kids," he said. "Thank goodness we passed the renewal levy when we did [on May 2]. That gives us a window of opportunity."
Without any changes being made, Nichols said, the district runs the risk of not making payroll in 2018, running out of money in 2019 and risking Ohio Department of Education fiscal watch in 2021.
Nichols said the Board will be called upon to take action on his RIF recommendations on June 7. "That will provide us with the opportunity to meet with the appropriate staff before then," he said.
"There's no getting around the RIFs?" asked Board Member Barbara Gunter.
Nichols said a new five-year financial forecast will be presented at the next board meeting, which will be May 17. He noted the district's annual cash carryover "has not been good since 2005."
Gunter said a performance audit of the district was conducted in 2005. "I strongly feel we should do it again before we go to the community for more money," she said.
Nichols said the district's treasurer, Justin Klingshirn, can complete the performance audit himself.
Gunter further suggested classes that aren't full be eliminated. Board Member Patrice White said when she taught at Cuyahoga Falls that was a standard practice. Nichols said that is still done today.
Board Member David Martin said the Board should have received the superintendent's cost-cutting measures in January. Nichols said that wouldn't have been possible.
"I'm not a riffer," said Martin. "I suggest you take a hard look at everything before you start looking at people."
"I already did," said Nichols.
"The reality is we're a people business," said Board President Karen Schofield. "That's where the majority of your expense is. We've already cut curriculum to the bone." Scofield cited examples in 15-year-old textbooks students are using and field trips that have been discontinued.
"Every day, these people are working magic with nothing; with old crap," she said.
"I don't think you're suggesting that I'm a riffer. At least I hope not," Nichols said to Martin. "Because I'm not." Nichols said the teachers are members of the "Black Tiger family."