Ohio loses thousands of public school teachers to budget cuts
Fewer dollars for Ohio schools has meant fewer teachers in classrooms in many districts across the state.
State records show the number of full-time teachers in public schools fell by nearly 6 percent over a decade ending in the 2010-11 school year, and surveys by education associations and The Associated Press indicate the downward trend has continued the last two school years. There’s little expectation of immediate improvement as districts grapple with reduced state funding, declines in property tax revenues and voter reluctance in many districts to approve new levies as households slowly recover from the Great Recession.
“There’s no bright light on the horizon,” said Damon Asbury, legislative services director for the Ohio School Boards Association. “Schools will continue to do more with less.”
The results of cuts for many schools: more students per teacher, fewer electives in areas such as foreign languages and arts classes, reduced support staff.
Gov. John Kasich and his administration have urged schools to focus their dollars on classroom instruction, raise standards such as lower-elementary reading proficiency, and to stretch their budgets by pooling resources in such areas as technology, office functions and transportation.
“We do need to manage our schools better financially,” the Republican governor said in June while signing an education reform package including a “guarantee” that third-graders will be able to read before being passed ahead. “And in addition to that, what are we teaching kids in kindergarten, first and second grade if we’re not teaching them to read?”
Personnel costs are usually the major portion of a district’s budget, so any significant budget cuts usually mean job losses. The state School Boards Association surveyed districts this year and, with 268 of the state’s 613 districts responding, found they have reduced staff by an average of 13 full-time employees each since 2008, with some big city districts cutting hundreds of employees. Cleveland Municipal Schools slashed 658 jobs, to 3,311 total, according to the survey. Lakota Local Schools, a major northern Cincinnati suburban district, says it is down to 915 full-time teachers, 236 fewer than the 2007-’08 school year.
Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on Vindy.com.