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Published: Friday, 5/8/2009

TPS to close 2 elementary schools, cut more than 100 positions

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Public Schools could close two elementary schools and cut more than 100 staff positions in an effort to close a $10 million budget gap.

The elementary schools recommended to be closed are Nathan Hale, 1701 Shenandoah Rd., and Fulton, 333 Melrose Ave. The staff cuts will total 116.5 positions and include teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators, according to the plan unveiled by Superintendent John Foley at a special school board meeting Friday morning.

Libbey High School, which had been rumored to be on the chopping block, is recommended to stay open.

The Toledo Board of Education will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday and plans to vote on the recommendations next Friday.

Closing the two elementary schools will save about $1 million - $645,007 for Nathan Hale and $440,387 for Fulton - through position cuts and utility savings.

The schools are in the Scott High School learning community.

Nathan Hale has an enrollment of 217 in a school built for 979 and Fulton has 213 students in a building with a 442-student capacity.

Many of the students would go to the new King Elementary School, being constructed at 1300 Forrest Ave., which will open for the 2009-10 school year. It can serve 350 students.

"It really is about implementing the overall master plan," the superintendent said. "And when you have a new school opening you need to have students in it."

The superintendent's recommendations also include closing the old Sherman Elementary School which is currently open in addition to the new school because of an overcapacity of students.

The new Spring Elementary School being constructed on Spring Street near Stickney Avenue also will open this fall and could absorb some of the extra students at Sherman.

The small schools program at Libbey and Scott high schools is recommended to be reduced from three to two small schools, which will save more than $200,000 at each with staff reductions.

The planned cuts also include moving Lincoln Academy for Boys to a smaller building and other building consolidations.

The overall plan trims $10 million from the budget to fill the same-sized gap projected for the upcoming fiscal year.

There are 116.5 positions cut in the proposal, including 88 teachers.

Board members said they hope most of the positions are reduced through retirements instead of layoffs.

"It's hard whenever you talk of reducing your work force because you are talking about families," board member Bob Vasquez said. "It's a difficult decision but can't be avoided."

Despite the fact that Libbey was not recommended to close, much of the discussion centered around the future of the school and a commitment to keep it open so it that it isn't on the chopping block every year.




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