The Cincinnati Public Schools board of education has voted unanimously to cut 10% of its teaching staff to cover a $43 million budget deficit. They are blaming the loss of the 237 teaching jobs on a reduction in state and federal funding. The cuts are expected to halve the budget gap, with the district assessing which programs to cut as a way to close the remaining gap.
Only 35 of the cuts are actual layoffs of full time staff, with 90 lost positions being those of long-term substitutes and the remaining 112 being accounted for by retirements and resignations. They come after the laying off of 40 administrators in March.
CPS is Ohio’s third largest district and currently caters to 32,385 students with 2,500 teachers, although enrollment is declining.
Cincinnati Federation of Teachers President Julie Sellers warns that declining enrollment is no justification for cuts of this size and that teacher cuts have far outpaced the reduction in student numbers. She fears that the latest cuts will result in an increase of mixed-grade classrooms which ultimately fail all the students as the teacher is unable to provide them proper attention and education.
“This year already most of our grievances were about overloaded classrooms,” she said. “We already did not have enough teachers, so to cut another (237)…. We have to be responsible enough that we are making cuts in a way that we are keeping teachers in the classrooms so we can maintain class sizes that are optimal for student learning.”
In a report issued on April 9 the American Federation of Teachers concluded that substantial cuts were unnecessary as CPS have overestimated its cost. However, Superintendent Mary Ronan has stated that the district has no plans to reverse the layoff decisions.
CPS also cut 145 teaching positions last year, but almost all of these were retirements.
Parents of affected children are understandably concerned:
“It’s upsetting. Class size will get bigger and they won’t get that one on one attention that they need and deserve,” parent Terrence Picket said.