Commission plans studies on more staff reductions

Staff salaries and benefits amount to 89 percent of the district's budget.
LORDSTOWN -- School staffing will undergo two analyses to determine where more cuts may be made.
"When you see the student-to-teacher ratio, it appears there's some room for economies there," William Wenger, chairman of the state commission appointed to oversee school district finances, said at a commission meeting Wednesday.
Wenger pointed to a world history class as an example. The class is offered in three sessions. Two of the class sessions include 14 students each, while 20 students are enrolled in the third session.
"You could get by with two sections," the chairman said.
Fiscal emergency: The oversight commission was appointed earlier this year after state Auditor Jim Petro's office declared the district in fiscal emergency, citing a projected $1.3 million deficit.
Superintendent Ray Getz said that to cut a teacher, the district must ensure that someone else is certified to teach that subject.
"The economies of scale get to be pretty difficult in a district this size," Getz said.
Wenger acknowledged the problem with certification as well as the potential for scheduling difficulties for students if class sections are cut.
"The other side is this is a fiscal emergency district," Wenger said.
Staff salaries and benefits amount to about 89 percent of the district's budget, leaving only about 11 percent for remaining district expenses.
"The answer is probably a combination of community support and efficiencies on the part of the school district," Wenger said.
The chairman plans to conduct a district staffing analysis, comparing Lordstown to state-minimum standards. He also will ask a consultant to study staffing in the context of the district's master class schedule to determine if cuts may be made.
Previous cuts: The district already sliced several staff positions, but only four of those were classroom teachers. The cuts saved about $426,280 for the district.
Voters turned down a school levy in May and the district is expected to try again on the November ballot. The amount of the levy hasn't been determined. School board members plan a special meeting for Aug. 8 to discuss the levy.
The commission's next meeting is 10 a.m. Aug. 7 to discuss levy plans. Aug. 23 is the filing deadline to get an issue on the November ballot.

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