YOUNGSTOWN - In an effort to close an anticipated budget gap, the city school district is eliminating 75 jobs as part of an effort to reduce spending.
The Youngstown Board of Education agreed to the staffing cuts, which school officials said on Tuesday will reduce district expenditures by $4.1 million.
The job cuts, effective with the 2012-13 school year, include 60 certified, three administrative and 12 classified positions.
"As a board, it is our highest responsibility to taxpayers to maintain a balanced budget while keeping a close eye on our mission of providing a quality education for our children," said Lock P. Beachum Sr., board president. "The prudent approach is to continually right-size the district as we go along."
Youngstown City Schools faces a pending budget deficit. School officials cited declining revenue and enrollment and escalating costs for its financial challenges. As a proactive approach to maintaining a balanced budget, Beachum suggested investigating cost reductions in 13 areas: student/teacher ratio, central office / administrative staffing, health care, overtime, step increases, contract management services, building closures, high school transportation, on time supply, utilities, travel and extracurricular activities.
"We have looked at all these areas and more, and proposed a series of savings, cuts, and organizational adjustments that will significantly impact our budget," explained Superintendent Dr. Connie Hathorn. "I realize these are never easy decisions, but I am grateful board members understand the necessity of keeping our expenditures proportional to our size, and are open-minded to changes in district operations."
Assistant Superintendent Karen Green said the elimination of 75 job positions will not necessarily mean that 75 people will lose their jobs next fall.
"To date we have received 43 retirements and resignations and more may come," she explained. Through attrition, the actual number of people who could be jobless next fall is about 24."
Other cost-saving actions will include a change in the student/teacher ratio - grades K-1 will see a rise from 15:1 to 18:1 ratio, and grades 2-12 will move from 25:1 to 27:1. The district also is pursuing changes in health care through negotiations with its bargaining groups.
"I applaud Dr. Hathorn and his staff for the work they have done in fiscal management," said board Beachum. "It is never easy, but it is the right thing to do."