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Published: Thursday, 4/30/2009

TPS weighs teacher layoffs

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Up to 100 Toledo teachers could be laid off as Toledo Public Schools looks to trim a $10 million deficit for the upcoming year.

The Toledo Federation of Teachers union has been notified that 75 to 100 teachers could be laid off, said Francine Lawrence, president of the teachers' union.

"If there are to be layoffs, position cuts in the district, that needs to occur equitably across all units," Ms. Lawrence said.

While the district has several unpopular decisions to make regarding school closings, redrawing district lines, and staff cuts, Ms. Lawrence urged the board and superintendent to make them quickly so staff, parents, and students can plan. "We are a precious few weeks from the closing of school" for the summer, she said.

Ms. Lawrence said she has not received information about why the 75 to 100 cuts are needed.

"We have not had any briefing as to the board's financial projections for next year, so I have not received evidence to support the rationale for eliminating classroom teachers," she said.

The teachers' union represents about 3,000 teachers, substitutes, and paraprofessionals.

TPS Superintendent John Foley confirmed the district is meeting with its bargaining units to talk about possible staff reductions because of a projected $10 million deficit for fiscal year 2010.

"We're considering with the loss of enrollment, making adjustments to our staffing levels and potentially closing some schools tied to staffing levels and, as well as, the OSFC plan," the superintendent said, referring to schools not receiving funding for renovation or a new building through the state-supported Ohio School Facilities Commission building program.

The presumption is those schools - Libbey High, Lincoln Academy for Boys, and East Side Central, Fulton, Lagrange, and Nathan Hale elementary schools - would close.

The district is facing a $10 million deficit because of a combination of enrollment declines, static revenue, and increases in costs, Mr. Foley said.

The district lost 1,600 students last year and anticipates losing more.

"The fact is, as we lose students, we lose budget, and as we lose students, we need to adjust staffing capacity," he said.

The district expects no increases in state funding and hasn't had a new levy since 2000.

In November, voters approved a 4.8-mill levy renewal to keep $15.7 million in the annual operating budget. They also voted yes for a $37 million bond issue, but that is going toward building renovations, not the operating budget.

The district had considered asking voters for more than the renewal levy to offset future deficit projections, but decided against it because of the economy.

David McClellan, president of the Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel, said there is no number of layoffs projected for his membership as it will depend on school closings and other decisions that haven't been made.

He said the union is preparing for staff cuts by not making any appointments after March 1. Instead of replacing a principal or other leader, the union is filling the positions with acting employees so there will be slots available for those laid off to enter, Mr. McClelland said.

The administrative personnel union represents about 300 employees in positions such as principals, deans, and directors. The district also has about 1,000 hourly workers, including custodians, secretarial staff, and bus drivers.

A representative for the union that represents them through the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees could not be reached for comment.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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