CUYAHOGA FALLS -- City school district teachers whose jobs are in jeopardy could learn their fate as soon as this week, according to the leader of their union.

This news comes on the heels of the superintendent's announcement May 3 that teachers will lose their jobs as part of an effort to cut $2 million from the budget. District superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols on May 3 proposed the reduction in force of 24 teachers as part of a plan to save approximately $2 million. The Board is planning to vote on Nichols' recommendations June 7.

"This is every superintendent's worst nightmare," Nichols said on May 3 when he announced the proposed reductions.

Melody Carlisle, president of the Cuyahoga Falls Education Association, on May 5 said teachers impacted by the reduction in force will be notified of their employment status upon the final completion of this year's performance and student evaluations. "We are hoping to do this around the week of May 15," Carlisle said. "CFEA will assist [the] administration in the notification and offer post employment information to our members."

The union leader said she and Dr. Nichols began meeting in mid-April to discuss Nichols' proposed cuts. Carlisle said she has also been working with Ellen McClure, the district's director of human resources, to determine the staff that will be affected by the positions being eliminated.

"It is a tedious process to determine the staff that will be reduced," she said. "State laws require us to first look at types of contracts, job performance based on student growth and evaluations, and then lastly seniority."

Carlisle said it's "disheartening, to say the least, that excellent teachers can potentially lose their jobs based on unreliable state testing." Student growth, she said, is largely based on state testing that has been "nothing but controversial and unreliable these past couple of years. So much so, that the legislatures created the Safe Harbor law to keep the students from suffering negative consequences due to value added reports."

The union president is not happy about the superintendent's plan to impose a reduction in force, or RIF. 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.

"I am very disappointed in the number of teachers that will be affected by this RIF," Carlisle said in an email May 5 to the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press. "The elimination of staff and programming in our district will have a devastating impact on the entire CFEA membership and more importantly, the children we serve."

In the past, Carlisle said, teachers have made "many concessions in good faith to help to improve the financial dire straits of the district." She said these concessions included the elimination of union positions, pay and salary step freezes and increased contributions for health care benefits.

"It is our hope that the board of education and community come together to invest in our schools and the education of our students," Carlisle noted.


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