Which Came First: The Failing Schools or The Budget Cuts?
It was with a heavy heart that I read the news on Friday about Columbus City Schools laying-off 164 employees, 113 of them teachers. My daughter goes to a school in the district, and I'm already worried about the impact these cuts will have on her education next year. Will the classrooms be more crowded? Will there be fewer aides to help out?
The Dispatch article reported the cuts were being done to save money after losing students to charter schools and private schools. It's obvious that the school system has developed a bad reputation - they are planning for 2,500 children to leave the district for other school options over the summer alone - and the reputation isn't just based on proficiency test performance. I've heard complaints from parents who feel the schools are already overcrowded, and who are concerned that some of the older school buildings are unsafe.
While I understand the school district is a business and has to make ends meet, I question whether cutting more teachers is the answer. A school district relies on its reputation, and most of that reputation is made with excellent teachers who receive the full support of their district, enabling them to teach a manageable number of students with the proper resources. Pull out any one of those factors, and the reputation will decline rapidly.
I don't know what the answer is to getting the Columbus City Schools district - or any other struggling district - back on track, but cutting the staff doesn't seem like a smart move to me. The superintendent says this is a move to prevent asking for another school levy, since they just passed a school levy in 2008. (And leaves me wondering why they're running out of money again so quickly after we passed that large levy.)Continued on the next page