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Woodridge planning massive cuts if levy fails

9/13/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

PENINSULA — All-day kindergarten, 15 teachers, guidance counselors, library tutors, health and custodial aides — these are some of the programs and positions that will be eliminated from the Woodridge Local Schools if the district’s emergency operating levy on the Nov. 6 ballot doesn’t pass.

At a special meeting Sept. 6, the Woodridge Board of Education unanimously approved 11 resolutions on what to eliminate, beginning in the 2013-14 school year, if the levy doesn’t pass.

These are in addition to eliminating busing for high school students and reducing it for younger children to only those who live more than 2 miles away from school, which would save $235,000 a year, which was approved at the board’s Aug. 23 meeting.

If the 6.83-mill levy does not pass, Treasurer Deanna Levenger has said the district will need to cut at least another $1.8 million to balance its budget. The amount that would be saved through the planned Sept. 6 cuts, in addition to the busing savings, would total around $1.89 million, Levenger said.

Board members tabled eight other possible areas to reduce, pending more exact financial information from district officials. Board President Tammy Heffernan, along with other board members, said they want to send a clear message to the Woodridge community about what will be lost if the levy fails.

Superintendent Walter Davis called the cutting of programs and people “gut-wrenching” at the somber meeting.

If the levy fails, the additional cuts for the following school year would include:

√ all-day, everyday kindergarten (only a half day is required by the state, said Davis). The district would have to go to a half-day or staggered-day schedule, he said;

√ teachers: three kindergarten (from reducing from all-day), five high school, three middle school and four elementary;

√ one of two bus mechanics;

√ two health aides, contracted through Akron Children’s Hospital;

√ one-and-a-half guidance/counseling jobs;

√ one of two industrial technology teachers;

√ one of two in-school restriction monitors;

√ three of four library tutors. The schools would have to turn to parent volunteers to staff the libraries, Davis said; and

√ three custodial aides, resulting from the closure of the primary and intermediate schools at 6 p.m. This would close the doors to Scouts, basketball and volleyball games, among others, that currently make use of the schools at night.

“We’ll have to partner more with churches and other places that can host activities,” Davis said.

“All of these significantly change what we do for kids and families,” he added.

The proposed future cuts may all be revisited if necessary, he said. They will take place only if the November levy fails.

In other business, the board approved a combined third- and fourth-grade class for this year, to help alleviate the large classes in those grades. Enrollment is higher than usual, but not high enough to add another class at either level, said Davis. Kristi Ferber was approved to teach the combined class.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. in the Woodridge High School Library, 4440 Quick Road.

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