Teachers, union decry budget cuts expected at some Cleveland schools

CLEVELAND - An agreement not to lay off teachers added to an anticipated drop in district enrollment has the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) in a financial squeeze for next school year.

At a school board meeting Tuesday night, teachers and their union expressed their displeasure at cuts expected to be made to the budgets at many of the district’s schools.

Under Student-Based Budgeting (SBB), decisions are made at the building level rather than from the central administration offices. The system has funding for each building dependent on enrollment; the funding dollars follow the student.

When enrollment drops, the budget drops at the individual schools.

“When school budgets are shredded in this way, it is obviously not a matter of determining what a school needs but what a school must cut,” said Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke.

“Do you really believe that Cleveland schools are going to cut their way to success?” he asked board members.

Teachers at the meeting held signs showing how much money was to be cut from their individual schools.

Even though the city’s voter approved a tax levy, Issue 107, for the district in 2012, the dollars are not enough to offset the losses from decreasing enrollment district-wide and a promise not to layoff teachers.

“Issue 107 or any issue cannot control for that nor would any taxpayer expect us to continue to put the same amount of dollars into smaller and smaller and smaller schools,” said CMSD CEO Eric Gordon.

Gordon said declining enrollment accounts for two-thirds of the resource change in the upcoming budget.

“We must continue to be even more aggressive about returning and retaining our students, which indeed will return and retain dollars,” Gordon added.

Tuesday’s meeting was held at Buhrer School on Cleveland’s west side.

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