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Published: Tuesday, 4/1/2008

Oregon schools still could cut up to 24 posts

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Having cut Lucas County Educational Service Center teachers from their staff, Oregon City Schools administrators yesterday said more cuts are imminent as they work to trim the district's budget by $1.2 million before next school year.

Up to 24 additional positions, including 13 teachers and two administrators, may be on the chopping block.

"I've proposed we reduce two administrative positions," Superintendent John Hall said. "[A] curriculum coordinator will not be employed next year. We also have a principal or assistant principal who will not be employed.•.•.•. All that is subject to board approval."

School administrators March 19 told service center officials their contract would not be renewed for the 2008-09 year.

Mr. Hall said he will use Oregon schools staff to fill the positions, which school board President Eric Heintschel said would save about $300,000.

Sandra Frisch, the county center's superintendent, said the Oregon contract included four special-needs teachers, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, and early-childhood education services.

Some negotiations remain to be decided, she said, and Lucas County's early childhood services may still be used by the Oregon schools.

"In the past they've contracted for early childhood programming," she said. "It's our understanding they're going to continue to do that."

But Mr. Heintschel said Mrs. Frisch's understanding of the situation differed from his.

"Early childhood services "might be something outside of our main contract that we may be doing, but I'm not aware of it," he said. "My assumption was we're eliminating our relationship with them completely."

School board members discussed last night where the nonrenewal of the contract leaves them in terms of cost savings.

Oregon voters March 4 passed a new 5.9-mill tax levy that will generate about $3.5 million a year beginning next year, but that won't be nearly enough to balance the district's budget.

Mr. Hall said the Oregon schools will lose $7.7 million in property-tax revenue over the next couple of years because of the Ohio legislature's 2005 decision to phase out the personal-tangible property tax as an economic-development incentive for businesses.

The measure was designed to reduce the personal tangible property tax by about 20 percent a year over five years.

"You cannot take $7.7 million away from a school district with a $42 million budget and not make cuts," Mr. Hall said. "If the levy wouldn't have passed, we'd have another $1.7 million in cuts to make for really a disastrous situation. We're looking at $1.2 million worth of cuts. Unless somebody hits the Mega Millions [lottery] real quick, we've got significant cuts to make."

Mr. Hall said the school board will try to make cuts through attrition, but only one teacher has announced that he would retire after this year.

Any cuts will affect all faculty, administrators, and classified staff such as bus drivers, janitors, or cafeteria workers, Mr. Hall said.

Mr. Heintschel said the superintendent's budget cut recommendation will likely be voted on by the board at its regular meeting in about two weeks.

Contact Chauncey Alcorn at:

calcorn@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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