By Corey McMahon
The issue of educational budget cuts has implications beyond just athletics and extracurricular activities. Given current economic conditions and educational policy changes at state and local levels, broad cuts are being made at schools across central Ohio.
In the agenda for the April 11 meeting, the Pickerington Board of Education announced it would not renew contracts for 69 teachers and staff members who are in their first three years of teaching as well as other, more experienced faculty. In total, more than 100 workers are being cut.
In an interview with This Week, Pickerington Local Schools Superintendent Karen Mantia said the cuts were a necessary part of a comprehensive plan to reduce the budget.
“It’s a long, painful list,” she said. “We invest in human capital, and there’s not simple way to balance the budget without affecting teachers and staff.”
UA is also grappling with similar issues that will cause cuts in upcoming years. The minutes of a UAHS department head meeting describes the loss of funding the school expects.
“[Principal] Kip [Greenhill] reported that the district is targeted to lose 67 percent of its state aid,” the minutes read, “which amounts to 11 million dollars over the next four years.”
According to the memo, steps are already being taken to address the impending loss of funding.
“As a result, the Board of Education has put a freeze on teaching staff increases,” it reads. “All department budgets will be reduced up to ten percent next year. The reductions will allow us to set up a rainy day fund in case the levy [in November] is defeated.”
The decrease of state funding; however, is likely not as serious of a problem for UAHS as others. A financial update authored by Pickerington Local School District Treasurer Dan Griscom compares the financial situations of area districts. According to the report, UAHS has a lower reliance on state funding than nearby schools of similar academic standing. At 19.6 percent, the percentage of Upper Arlington’s dollars coming from the state is lower than most other school districts including Pickerington (51.4 percent) which relies most heavily on state funding. Only Olentangy, at 17.2 percent, is listed below Upper Arlington and the state average is 44.8 percent.
But if it comes time where the school board has to make larger cuts, some wonder from where those cuts will be made. Personnel costs of the Pickerington Local School District, which had to cut more than 100 jobs, were only 82 percent of total expenses. At Upper Arlington City Schools, personnel costs make up 86.7 percent of personnel costs, according to Griscom’s report. This would suggest job cuts could be in Upper Arlington’s near future.
According to the minutes of the department head meeting, such a situation is not here yet. Expenditure cuts were made without anyone losing their job at the high school, although some faculty was moved throughout the district.
Carla Fultz, president of the Pickerington Education Association, sums up the feeling and fears that many have.
“This will have an impact on many, many students., “ she said.