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Published: Wednesday, 4/27/2005

1st in series of cuts OK'd for Toledo Public Schools

The Toledo Board of Education last night decided to cut all nonathletic supplemental contracts for the fall, the first in what is expected to be a series of cutbacks resulting from a projected $13 million deficit.

Three board members - President Larry Sykes, Peter Silverman, and Steven Thomas - voted in favor, while Vice President Deborah Barnett abstained. Board member David Welch was absent.

But Superintendent Eugene Sanders said after the meeting that the board action doesn't mean all supplemental contracts will be slashed next school year, which would signal an end to extracurricular programs like Quiz Bowl and plays. But he said all such contracts must be reviewed.

"People should not be alarmed that we're going to eliminate all supplementals. We would never do this," Mr. Sanders said.

He added that the district needs to look at all opportunities for savings between now and July 1, when Toledo Public Schools must balance its budget. Mr. Sanders said the potential budget deficit could be decreased pending action in Columbus. The district also has $3.7 million in a rainy day fund, he said.

In addition to slashing supplemental contracts, the superintendent said about 235 jobs - some of which could include retirements - could be on the chopping block next school year, 194 of which are teaching positions. Similar cutbacks in personnel have been made the last two years.

Francine Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, told the board that decisions to cut teaching positions and supplemental contracts show that teaching and learning are not the district's priorities.

"They're gutting the heart of the school system," Ms. Lawrence said after the meeting.

Similar to the supplemental contracts, Mr. Sanders said final decisions have not yet been made on the employee cuts and how certain school buildings would be affected. He also said previous cuts have been based on who has the largest chunk of the payroll, which is the Toledo Federation of Teachers.

In other matters, board members heard a synopsis of a long-awaited report from Linda Kaboolian, a Harvard professor who was hired by the district to review its peer review system known as the Toledo Plan.

Ms. Kaboolian produced a disc with her findings, which includes 15 recommendations about the program. She noted that "there's a lot of pain in this community about race, and a lot of it surrounds this plan." But overall, she said, the program is not systematically flawed.

Twila Page, secretary of the African-American Parents Association, said she has yet to review the report, but said she was pleased overall that Ms. Kaboolian made so many recommendations about the Toledo Plan, which she said signals there are problems with it.

The board also:

●Commended Mr. Sanders for receiving the 2005 Ohio Superintendent Outstanding Performance Award from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. The award includes $20,000 for Mr. Sanders to apply within the district, money he plans to use to help identify and groom sixth graders who have future aspirations but not financial resources to attend college.

●Heard from a variety of levy supporters and opponents regarding next week's request for a five-year, 2.5-mill permanent improvement levy.

●●Tabled a resolution related to the use of Tasers in school buildings.



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