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Niles BOE to consider layoffs for 34 workers

Published: Mon, May 21, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

BY Jordan Cohen



In an effort to save $1.4 million next year, the Niles school board will be asked this week to lay off 15 teachers and 19 nonteaching staff.

However, even with the layoffs, a sizable deficit would remain for fiscal year 2013, warns Superintendent Mark Robinson, who will propose the layoffs at the board’s meeting Wednesday.

“Even with those cuts, we still have to eliminate an additional deficit of $289,000,” Robinson said.

“I could have gone deeper [with layoffs], but we’ve been very conservative, and I’m hoping to find other options.”

Among the teaching staff, the cuts include a high school business instructor, a part-time physical education instructor, elementary teachers and two special-education teachers.

“We don’t have as high a level of need in special education as we used to,” Robinson said.

Robinson identified the positions in the noncertificated staff as custodians, educational assistants, bus drivers and cafeteria workers. The superintendent said the original plans were to furlough 20 of the non-teaching employees, but retirements enabled him to reduce the number by one.

“We base it upon need,” Robinson said.

The upcoming school-board vote will mark the second reduction in force in the district in four years. In April 2008, the district eliminated a $1.5-million deficit by laying off nine teachers and one custodian.

Niles has been under state fiscal watch since 2003. Earlier this year, the district narrowly averted a declaration of fiscal emergency when voters approved a renewal levy. A state- run financial planning and supervision commission would have been placed in charge of school finances had that declaration been issued.

The superintendent said he hopes that negotiations with the Niles Education Association, the union representing the district’s nearly 200 teachers, will help alleviate the deficit as did an agreement last November with the union representing the non-teaching staff. The teachers’ previous contract expired last August. Several messages seeking comment from Mary Ann McMahon, NEA president, were not returned.

“The reduction [in staff] has not impacted negotiations and has not been thrown up as a roadblock,” the superintendent said.

Board member Eric Lanham said the difficulties in Niles is typical of the plight of other districts across the state. “We’re at a point that is unpleasant, but it is necessary especially when you look at our five-year forecast,” Lanham said.

The forecast projected a deficit exceeding $4 million by 2015 should current expenditures and anticipated revenues remain unchanged.

“We could try other things like pay-to-play for our sports programs, but looking at the economy of Niles, that would restrict a number of students from participating,” said Lanham, adding that the money earned from pay-to-play would be “minimal.”

First-year board member Christopher Doutt declined comment on how he will vote Wednesday. Doutt, a retired Niles schoolteacher, called the situation “unfortunate.”

Robinson said that he hopes to further reduce the deficit by keeping a tight rein on purchases of items such as textbooks and reducing costs of printing. He said, however, the state is still paying close attention to Niles’ plight.

“If we’re still showing a negative balance in October or November, we’ll probably hear from them,” the superintendent said.


1glbtactivist(321 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

How sad. In the article at the top of the newspaper, the government is giving millions to the richest industry in the world - oil and gas - for training. It's for the richest companies in the world, BP and Shell. Then the paper reports that schools are cutting due to a lack of money. How did we ever get such idiots in charge of our government?

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2DontBanThisDrone(1046 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Knightcap wrote: "When the economy is bad and people are getting laid off you don't hand out raises."

That applies to for-profit private sector companies. We're talking government here, where their funding is provided for free, with no need to be competitive to survive. That's why, 4-5 years after The Great Recession hit, they're STILL screaming for MORE, MORE, MORE!

They're used to the free money falling from the sky, so they expect it to continue to be there.


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3ytownredux(117 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Knightcap.. Were the teachers rolling in it back in 2008?? I dont get your logic. Yes we are in a recession, but last i checked the price of milk, gas, food, etc didnt stop going up in 2008 because of the recession. It's easy to kick unions in the teeth, but these guys have been given a comfortable living wage, they weren't Mitt Romneys for crying out loud. Before we ask for the middle class to give back, can we please agree on having the fat cats on wall street, and govt. give back first??

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4annieoakley(5 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

To Knightcap, Do your research before you offer suggestions. Niles teachers have taken zero raises for ten years. I checked my facts and found that although Niles is one of the larger cities in Trumbull County, the teachers are the second lowest paid and Bloomfield is slightly below them. I think the teachers have shown they were willing to cut budgets for years but the old board gave the new superintendent a huge salary and benefits and added administrators. Why isn't the superintendent making cuts at the top? What does that school treasurer make? I heard she doesn't even have a bachelor's degree.

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5redeye1(5683 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

WHO REALLY CARES!!!!!!!!! No matter what anyone says, they will do as they wish anyhow

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