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Published: Thursday, 3/10/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Proposed cut of 52 jobs in Sylvania tied to levy

School board seeking givebacks, retirements

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sylvania School System superintendent Brad Rieger. Sylvania School System superintendent Brad Rieger.
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Employee wage concessions and participation in a retirement-incentive plan offered by the Sylvania Board of Education have reduced by more than half the 111.5 job reductions school officials said in December would be needed to balance the district's budget next school year.

But a revised budget-cutting plan school Superintendent Brad Rieger released Wednesday still requires eliminating the full-time equivalent of 52.8 positions that aren't directly covered by the retirements, and exactly how many faculty and staff will involuntarily lose their jobs won't be known for weeks.

"The economic sacrifice of staff members, coupled with a significant number of retirements, enabled positions to be taken off the reduction list," Mr. Rieger said in a letter accompanying the revised plan. "However, a significant number of positions will be eliminated going into next school year. The attached budget reduction plan is far from painless."

Mr. Rieger will formally present the plan to the school board when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Southview High School.

But in order for the budget to work as Mr. Rieger proposes, district voters must approve a 4.9-mill property levy request the school board has placed on the May 3 special election ballot.

That levy, which would cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the district an estimated $150 in annual tax, is forecast to generate $7.1 million in annual revenue, including about $3 million during the second half of the 2011-12 school year.

The levy "is necessary to regain the district's financial stability and prevent additional and deeper cuts in academic programs, extracurricular activities, and services," Mr. Rieger wrote.

Perry Lefevre, president of the Sylvania Education Association, plans to be at the meeting Monday night.

"The teachers' concessions, and those of all the employees, have dramatically changed the picture since December," Mr. Lefevre said. "Now we're going to get out and work very hard to get the levy passed in May."

But concerning the cuts' depth, the teachers' union president said he trusts the school administration's judgment and noted it is the school board's role to determine the size of the district's work force.

Sylvania teachers last month agreed to forgo step raises and longevity payments, and their work year will be reduced by one professional-development day, to save the district about $1,060,000.

Similar concessions by members of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, representing support staff, will save about $250,000, while district administrators will give up pay cuts valued at $100,000.

Mr. Rieger said retirements will save the Sylvania system an additional $2.1 million, but of the 33 teachers and two administrators who participated in the incentive, only 22.5 positions directly match a position in the district that will be eliminated.

The remaining 12.5 positions may well be filled by other school employees whose current jobs are to be eliminated, the superintendent said, but that all will take weeks to sort out once the budget is adopted. The incentive program offers a payment of $24,000 over four years.

"We're going to have a pretty extensive reorganization," Mr. Rieger said, adding that the shake-out also will determine how much of a $400,000 budget for unemployment compensation the district actually will have to spend.

The revisions call for reinstatement of 10.5 teaching and guidance positions at the elementary school level, 7.5 in the junior high schools, and 13.5 in the high schools that were cut in the December plan, including preservation of the junior-high Gifted and Talented Education program and double-block math classes, the elimination of which drew pleas for reconsideration during public meetings in January.

But the cuts still will boost average grade school class size to 23 students, junior-high sections to 26, and high school to 28.

Food prices will increase, bus routes will be combined, sports and club participation fees will rise, and transportation from away games back to school for certain athletic teams will be eliminated.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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