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Lakewood Superintendent: Cuts Loom, School to Close

To make up for a $12.4 million shortfall over the next five years, Superintendent Jeff Patterson laid out a budget blueprint at Monday’s school board meeting. But the district’s also going to need some help with a school levy.

In an effort to close a looming $12.4 million budget shortfall over the next five years, the considered some deep cuts to the budget on Monday.

And not much was left off the table — including cuts to staffing, fewer textbooks and closing a school.

Those were just a few of the ideas presented by Superintendent Jeff Patterson at Monday night’s school board meeting.

If approved, the proposal would save the district about $8.6 million over the next three years.

“This budget reduction plan accomplishes three goals,” said Patterson. “(It) minimizes the impact on student achievement; meets the criteria set by the community; and significantly reduces the amount of millage necessary in 2013.”

Patterson has made no secret that the district will seek a new operating levy in May 2013.

“These are difficult times when difficult decisions must be made.”

The decisions include closing one of the elementary schools. The school board previously voted — as part of the — to shutter , but Patterson said he’d like see which school “makes the most sense” to close.

The district will consider closing Grant, and elementary schools, he said, however the final decision won’t be made until August. 

“There are a lot factors to consider,” he said.

The school board voted to eliminate several positions — including a custodial position, an athletic manager post and a number of teaching positions.

“We’re going to have 25 fewer positions going into the next school year,” Patterson said, but stressed that only five teachers will lose their jobs.

The rest of the staffing cuts will be made through attrition.

“This is the hardest thing to do as a school board member,” said long-time board member Linda Beebe. “As I look down this list and see the positions and think about how it will affect the kids on a day-to-day basis, I realize this is where we come to the crunch.

“It’s not an easy decision.” 

Last week, the with the Lakewood Teachers Association, a move that will save the district more than $1.3 million over the next three years.

(See the attached PDF with a detailed outline of the cuts)

The belt-tightening proposal is the result of that Patterson hosted during the past couple months. The goal, Patterson said, was to find out what residents didn’t want to see slashed from the budget.

Colleen Clark-Sutton, who attended four of the meetings, said that she believes the administration was listening.

“It could have been way worse,” she said. “Arts and music is an easy place to cut, and this community shared what they value, so we asked them not to cut from one place.” 

The shortfall, Patterson said, is the result of massive cuts in state funding. The last levy — passed by Lakewood voters in 2010 — has been “negated by the state cuts.”

“The burden of financially supporting public schools has definitely shifted from the state to the local schools,” he added.

The board will vote whether to accept Patterson’s proposal at the June 4 meeting.

Alexandra May 22, 2012 at 10:53 AM
We also do not have as many children as there used to be to support all the elementary schools. I know this as the parent of my youngest who will be leaving elementary and entering middle school in August. I thought Grant was already closed..WHERE is Roosevelt? I had lived here 11 years and somehow I have never seen that school...
The original Bill May 22, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Corner of Lincoln and Athens
Michael Rice May 22, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I have voted for every tax levy for Lakewood Schools since I moved here in 1998. Since my son was old enough to go to school he has attended a private school in Lakewood, but I still wanted to ensure the schools had the best opportunity to succeed. At this point I am done voting for these tax levies and will encourage others to do so. We need real leaders who are ready to lead by example. Cut your own pay and those on the board. No one ever wants to be a true leader they just want the title.
chris olszewski May 22, 2012 at 02:24 PM
i agree with you Brian...lets see proof and hard evidence that administrators are making sacrifices as well...giving up board paid retirement, stipends, paying for their health insurance, 0 pay raises and such......
LHS Alum May 22, 2012 at 02:50 PM
We need to put pressure on the State of Ohio as they have not followed through with their promises to Lakewood Schools. Time to raise up and defend our Superior School System. Would I vote for a levy to support our schools. I SURE WOULD. I would rather have the money go directly to our community rather than get filtered by the GREEDY, STINGY, people in Columbus.
Wm. Fraunfelder May 22, 2012 at 03:12 PM
So, since the state has cut its' funding at the local level, you'd like to cut the local funding so as to punish the administrators? How about going to a school board meeting and addressing the administrative funding issue, rather than penalize an entire district of children. Public education in this country is part of the social contract we all buy-into (Thomas Jefferson was its' first proponent); whether or not you'd like to participate is your own business. You'd also be essentially throwing away a good portion of your property-tax value; what will prop-it up, Melt, Angelo's and the Beer Engine? The mismanagement of said education falls to both the legislature's unconstitutional funding efforts, and school boards for allowing salary/compensation competition amongst administrators to get out-of-hand.
Retiree May 22, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Mismanagement maybe true and both Brian and Wm have excellent summations!
Tim Torrence May 22, 2012 at 06:26 PM
By all means. But why are you putting pressure on the State of Ohio to pay for Lakewood schools? Do you think the people in Columbiana County or Adams County appreciate having their money filtered through Columbus to Lakewood City Schools? Do you enjoy your state tax dollars going to Cleveland City Schools where they are wasted in dramatic ways? Put pressure on your neighbors to pay for the levies.
Meredith May 23, 2012 at 12:11 AM
If they close Grant, Lincoln and roosevelt where will the children who live the center of lakewood go to school? This makes walkin to school a little more difficult?
Lakewood fan May 23, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Please read the attached PDF....Brian and Chris; the cuts you state they "should" do are being done just as they have been for the last few years. No raises, more contributions to benefits by the employees, not replacing positions, cutting work days, eliminating many positions...Everyone is doing other's jobs and not only not getting raises for years but are getting cuts in salaries. Keep informed instead of making false judgements.
Michael Rice May 23, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Lakewood Fan, apparently you work for the City or are an administrator hiding behind a fake name. Apparently, you cannot read or follow directions on the Patch policy.
Michael Rice May 23, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Tim, Lakewood residents have been good at passing levies since I moved here in 1998. We have too many empty buildings and administrators making too much money. We also have a lot of older teachers making big salaries.
Michael Rice May 23, 2012 at 01:50 PM
For the record, Erin Fach who is/was in charge of the rec. department but his contract is not being renewed was making 80k or so. He is being replaced by a man who is a retired superintendent who collects a pension and is now paid 115k to run the rec. dept. and head the HR department. Its decisions like this that make no sense. 25k more pay for someone who doesnt need the job.
Tim Torrence May 23, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Brian, as you can see I made my comment in response to LHS who stated that the state of Ohio broke promises and filters money. If you read my post you would see that Lakewood citizens pay into state taxes and the reverse is true for other school systems. I have no problem with people voting against a levy if they deem it unfit but to complain about not getting money from the state which comes from other school districts and then complain again about having to give money to other school districts is ridiculous. The whole educational system is a racket. Cleveland gets huge subsidies from the state and has the second highest tax base to pull from. Yet school systems like BFE Ohio are left to subside on their own. I have a son in the Lakewood school system and a daughter who is a recent graduate. I have seen the improvements in our system first hand and I will continue to support the program. The true problem is the administration has either failed to make these improvements known or the people have failed to listen. I vote for the latter. Is that to say reforms are unnecessary? Absolutely not. I have had many a debate with friends who are teachers and here on Patch, you can follow my comment posts. I am not a very public sector union friendly person. I do not hide that fact.
Lakewood fan May 23, 2012 at 05:51 PM
No Brian I do not work for the city; I am a nurse at a hospital. I have no problem "hiding" my identity. I saw that others used titles also. The facts are in the PDF with this article and I follow the information carefully as I am a taxpayer. I feel people should deal with facts rather than making assumptions. The "proof" Chris mentioned is out there; these things are available if people would read the various documents concerning the cuts.
Tim Torrence May 23, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Lakewood fan, you are kettle. Brian you are pot. Brian how do you post such a comment when you yourself are clearly in violation of Patch policy?

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