September 2, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain Schools to cut 167 jobs

LORAIN — The collective bargaining units for Lorain City Schools employees were sent notices Tuesday that up to 167 positions in the district are up for elimination.

Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said Tuesday that not all of those eliminations will be layoffs, but many positions may end up being eliminated through retirement and attrition. Any employee 55 or older who has at least 30 years of service is eligible for retirement. The district is offering cash settlements as a retirement incentive.

Tuesday’s notices, Atkinson said, were to let collective bargaining units know which positions are being eliminated. Individual employees are not being notified yet.

Positions are being eliminated throughout the district, including teachers, office staff, building administrators and support staff.

The eliminations are the result of a combination of things, Atkinson said. School consolidation with the closing of Southview High School after this year plays a part. Some grants are ending after this year. And there’s the projected $9.3 million deficit for next year if the levy on the May 4 ballot does not pass.

Even if the 8.97-mill levy passes, Atkinson said, it won’t impact much in terms of job eliminations right now. “If the levy passes, there are some things we could restore knowing we’ll be getting back the money,” she said. “But we still wouldn’t be collecting any of the money from the levy until February or March of next year. That means a lot of jobs and programs, we couldn’t bring back until the 2011-12 school year at the earliest.”

Lorain has been in fiscal caution since 2007.

That year, 243 teachers and 22 preschool aides — one-third of the teaching faculty at that time — were laid off in the tenure of the previous superintendent, Dee Morgan.

During that round of cuts, several laid-off teachers said they never received any notice that the school district planned to eliminate their position. This time, Atkinson said, she wanted things to be handled better.

“We want to give the bargaining units early notice of what’s going on,” Atkinson said. “We’re following the process to be fair and objective. It’s also good for employees to communicate this early, if they need to look elsewhere for employment.”

Lorain teachers union president Robin Knicely said Tuesday that she is getting in touch with members affected by this notice, and that the union will be meeting with all members soon to discuss the notice and its impact.

Contact Melissa Hebert at 329-7129 or mhebert@chroniclet.com.