By Kevin Kelley
The first cuts to the Westlake City Schools budget, required due to the narrow rejection of an operating levy last month, became official Monday night.
Board of Education members passed a resolution laying off six bus drivers for the 2013-2014 school year. The vote was unanimous, with member Tony Falcone absent. Beginning this fall, the district will only provide bus transportation to students residing beyond a one-mile walking distance from their school, including kindergarten students. All busing for high school students had already been eliminated.
The layoff of the six bus drivers was the only specific cut the school board approved Monday night. Superintendent Dan Keenan said more elements of the $930,000 in cuts he has proposed will come before the school board in the coming months. For example, the board each year approves school bus routes. The resolution to be presented to board members will reflect the reduction in service, Keenan said.
The proposed cuts will also be seen in actions the board does not take, such as the hiring of new teachers. Nine teacher positions will be eliminated in the next school year. However, those reductions are being achieved through attrition, as 25 teachers retired at the end of the past school year. Keenan said class sizes and educational programming will be affected by the cuts.
Additionally, Keenan said, reductions will be made in budgets for field trips, technology, equipment, summer help for cleaning, and supplies amounting to $143,000 from the operations side of the budget.
Ten nonteaching positions, including the six bus drivers, will be eliminated; three of these are through attrition.
The school board did not vote on approving Keenan’s budget reduction proposals in totality. However, with the exception of board President Tom Mays expressing reluctance to eliminate the family and consumer science program entirely, no member opposed the superintendent’s plan to balance the district’s budget.
Board member Barbara Leszynski said the kids are the losers in the budget cutting process.
“I don’t like cuts,” member Carol Winter said. But she said the cuts were balanced across the entire budget, something Keenan had aimed for.
CONTRACT APPROVED: Also at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, members approved a tentative agreement between the district and Local 319 of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, which represents nonteaching workers. Mays, Winter and Leszynski voted for the contract. Nate Cross was the dissenting vote. As mentioned, Falcone was absent. Check next week’s edition of West Life for more on the OAPSE contract.
AUCTION: The online auction of surplus materials, mostly from Westlake High School, which will be demolished this summer, is now taking place. John Froelich, a northern Ohio auctioneer, is running the sale. Items can be viewed and bid on at clevealandonlineauctions .com, which includes a photo and description of each item. The auction began June 3 and runs through June 12.