October 25, 2014

Elyria
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Schools boss: Cut delay could cost Lorain

LORAIN — The Lorain school board’s decision to delay any spending cuts until the end of the school year could be an expensive choice.

Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson proposed making the cuts as soon as possible at Wednesday’s meeting.

Atkinson said waiting to lay off staff and make other cuts could cost the district up to $1 million in savings, which will have to be made up later as no new money is coming in after Tuesday’s levy defeat. The cuts, designed to make up a projected $10.3 million deficit after the 2011-12 school year, include more than 100 staff positions from teachers and administrators to support and maintenance staff, eliminating middle and elementary school athletics, instituting pay-to-play fees for sports and clubs and cutting busing to state minimum requirements.

If the district does fall into a deficit, payroll may not be able to be certified and consequences could range from falling into fiscal watch to having the state declare a fiscal emergency and assuming control of the district.

Atkinson explained that the failure of the 10-year, 9.12-mill, $6 million levy meant that the district would collect no new money in 2011. Even if a new levy passes in May, money from it would not be coming in until 2012.

“Make the cuts now,” she urged.

Board members rejected putting the cuts into effect, saying they did not want to negatively impact students’ classes this school year.

Issue 8, which was defeated on Tuesday, 7,549 to 5,935, would have cost homeowners an additional $320 per year per $100,000 of home value.

The board has not decided how it will approach a May levy. It will next meet at Frank Jacinto Elementary School at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17.

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