February 15, 2012 10:25:00 AM
The formula is simple: Cut 54 teachers; save $2.1 million.
And with personnel accounting for 76 percent of the Columbus schools' budget, it's an easy target for cost savings.
Looking for an easy way to narrow that target? Fire first- and second-year teachers in a way to minimize legal repercussions.
Columbus Municipal School District has spent the past decade dipping into reserve funds and refusing to request the local tax increases needed to balance its budget.
Now, the practices have caught up to the district, and it's time to make sweeping cuts in an attempt to shave $3.4 million from the budget.
Over the summer, the school board announced plans to spend $51.88 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year, which began July 1, but they only expected to take in $43.51 million, $14.33 million of which would come from local taxes.
They already declared a $900,000 shortfall the year before and continue to budget themselves into the red.
Eventually, reserve funds are going to be too depleted to dip into, so we understand the urgency to correct this.
Cutting jobs based on seniority might seem like the simple solution to a complex problem, but we would rather keep effective novices in the classroom than tenured teachers who are lackluster.
When West Point School District cut 24 teaching positions in 2010, the superintendent asked principals to identify teachers for nonrenewal based on test scores and evaluations, not just who was easiest to fire.
During Del Phillips' tenure as superintendent of education for Columbus schools, he took a pay cut to help balance the budget. He asked his fellow administrators to do the same, which they did. And Phillips was merciless about getting rid of mediocre teachers.
It's time to get creative. And maybe the budget situation has gotten so critical that all roads lead to job loss. If that's the case, we'd like to see a more strategic approach to deciding who loses their jobs.