September 30, 2014

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Clearview Schools audit: Cut staff to reduce deficit

SHEFFIELD TWP. — An Ohio Auditors Office performance audit of Clearview Schools recommends cutting 14 positions — including eight teachers — to eliminate future deficits.

The audit, released Thursday, recommends $888,000 in cuts, including about $397,000 through teacher cuts. Clearview has forecast deficits of about $134,000 in the 2015-16 school year, $1.1 million in 2016-17 and $3.4 million in 2017-18.

Clearview would have a $135,000 surplus in 2017-18 if the cuts were implemented, according to a news release from Ohio Auditor Dave Yost.

“Large projected deficits mean large and often difficult changes need to be made,” Yost said. “Clearview’s current financial position calls for reduced spending.”

The teacher savings would be achieved by going to a minimum state requirement of a 25 to 1 student to teacher ratio. The approximately 1,750-student district has a roughly 21 to 1 ratio.

“While it is not common practice in Ohio to operate at or near state minimums, (Clearview) may need to make significant staffing reductions to address potential deficits if savings cannot be identified and achieved in other areas of operation,” the audit said.

Besides teachers, the audit recommends cutting four of Clearview’s education service personnel — positions such as counselors, librarians or school nurses — saving $307,500. Another $100,000 would be saved by cutting salaries and seniority-based wage increases known as steps for bus drivers, cafeteria workers and secretaries.

Two buildings and grounds position cuts also are suggested, saving $39,500. The audit said the amount of Clearview maintenance staff is above national averages and existing staff could do more work.

The audit also recommends increasing open enrollment to increase state taxpayer funding to the district while not hiring more teachers. Clearview, which receives about $5,700 per student in state funds, had the second highest open enrollment percentage in Ohio in the last school year and has a waiting list for all grades. The audit said Clearview also should consider privatizing food service to reduce costs.

The audit compared Clearview to five comparable school districts. Despite its student population being 8.5 percent smaller than its peers, Clearview outspent them by about 5 percent per pupil, according to Yost.

Superintendent Jerome Davis, district Treasurer Sean Nuccio, Joel Gleason, teachers union president, and Melissa Newsome, school board president, didn’t return calls Thursday. However, board member Rev. Danny Parsons did.

Parsons said requesting the free audit in December or January was a good idea, and there are some valid suggestions such as uniform classroom temperatures to reduce energy costs. Nonetheless, Parsons said he opposed its major recommendations. Parsons said reducing teachers and increasing class sizes would decrease educational quality, which is why parents send their children to Clearview.

“Make people do more work for less money? I don’t think that would create a happy working environment, nor would that be beneficial to the students,” he said. “I’m never a fan of cutting staff and adding more kids to the classroom.”

Parsons said projected deficits are not caused by money mismanagement, but shrinking local tax revenue due to the bad economy, less state funding and rising costs. Parsons said Clearview likely will have to ask taxpayers to approve a levy in the next two years to eliminate the deficit.

“I just hope if it does come to that, that the community and taxpayers will see how well we manage the money in the school system and be more than willing to support such a levy,” he said. “If we just sit back and do nothing and mismanage the money, I wouldn’t vote for the levy myself.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter at @egoodenowct.

 


  • castofcharacters

    Wow, “I’m never a fan of cutting staff and adding more kids to the classroom.” Mr. Parsons is a wise man! I am impressed with his thinking! Class size does make a huge difference in educating our children of today! Good for you Mr Parsons!

    • Sis Delish

      If that is true, then the next time a community is asked to pay for a new school building, it should be built with smaller classrooms, no? Smaller football stadiums, smaller gyms and certainly smaller cafeterias. The construction costs would go Way Down…

      Back to the Topic:

      The age-old argument about class-sizes is simply the Union’s bargaining angle.

      Here’s a concept: Pay Teachers for the Actual Number of Students Taught. That’s right, at the end of each Pay Period, based soley on Attendence records, Pay a Teach for the NUMBER of student’s taught.

      Under this proposal, the taxpayer would see which of the educators are willing to do more to get more.

      Now, before ya’ll start saying how crazy this is, remember that on-average, most schools have a 10-15% Truancy rate BUT, still receive tax revenues based on “enrollment”. In reality, Teacher Pay is based on that “enrollment” number, not the actual number of student in the classroom 100% of the time.

      Imagine the savings to the school budget which would translate into more balanced budgets and a greater use of the Teacher’s time and efforts in terms of efficiency.

  • Pablo Jones

    “Parsons said projected deficits are not caused by money mismanagement, but shrinking local tax revenue due to the bad economy, less state funding and rising costs.”

    How about you identify what costs are rising and keep them from rising. Seriously what is changing that results in a $1 million dollar deficit increase each year? Are you spending that much on paper? More spending on new schools and repairs? Or teacher compensation?

    Based on the school financial records the school is still receiving roughly the same amount of money from the state that it has for the last several years and local tax revenue has not decreased. But the school expenses are rising well over half a million a year. And the largest area for increase is teacher compensation, which has risen roughly half a million dollars a year. Don’t fire teachers just don’t give them raises.

    Parson is lying to the people. If he can’t be honest what how money is being spent and saying they are receiving less money then they shouldn’t have a levy passed.

    http://ode.legislature.state.oh.us/chart.php?district=48132&report_type=total_operating_revenue

  • SniperFire

    Keep voting yourself other people’s money and watch it all collapse, folks.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    You just got to love it when they ask for a audit and it doesn’t go they way they expect it……….cut this and maybe that……..nope we will just ask for more money……..got to love them….even when the facts are in…….they are still blind

    • JustaTech

      Quality education trumps all. Cutting staff, especially teachers, is ridiculous.

      • stillsleepyeyes

        Yes we know its for the children…………….no matter what the cost ……….The audit compared Clearview to five comparable school districts. Despite its student population being 8.5 percent smaller than its peers, Clearview outspent them by about 5 percent per pupil,

      • Pablo Jones

        Instead of giving them automatic pay increases they could keep their wages the same, then they wouldn’t have to cut staff.

        • JustaTech

          Pay increases are probably in their union contract.

          • stillsleepyeyes

            So in the end when the levies fail and there is no more money it would be safe to say that the unions are responsible for the teachers having more students in their classrooms…………….

          • Pablo Jones

            If it were truly about the kids, the teachers and unions could allow the contract to be modified to freeze pay and step increases. Usually for the optics they will do one or the other, but they usually still make more money year after year. Keystone froze step increases in exchange for a 2% cola each year. Others freeze COLA, but still get their step increase because most people don’t know about them.

          • Pablo Jones

            There is no doubt that it is. You can view public union contracts at http://www.serb.state.oh.us/. But those contracts usually come up for renewal every 3-5 years. They sign off on the contracts so they are responsible for the situation they are in. A simple clause that says pay raises can not exceed the rate of tax revenue growth (probably not as simply worded as that, but you get the idea) would work. Or cut out the automatic pay increases capping earnings at the top end.

  • JustaTech

    Or how about charging those kids lunch who can afford it rather than giving everyone free breakfast and lunch regardless of income. I don’t know where the cost of the food comes from, but it seems logical.

  • Sis Delish

    Clearview, Midview, OverallView of the local economy remains the same: Those Obama Bailout Subsidies only lasted so long. Reality has arrived, and let’s see how well the folks running the schools learned from History, for there is no calculation in the New Common Core Math which will defeat Reality.