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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.

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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