The Board of Education of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District took action to authorize CEO Eric Gordon to recall teachers to ensure a smooth school opening. At the same time the Board authorized the CEO to take all practical action necessary to keep its commitment to the community to maintain a balanced budget for the next two school years.
"We made a commitment that we would do what's right for kids and promised the community that we would balance the budget for two years," said Gordon. "This action places us in the best position to meet the Board's directives and keep the promises we made to our students, parents and community." The recall of teachers will begin immediately, with calls being placed to a group of teachers laid off earlier this year beginning Thursday morning.
The resolution approved by the Board allows the District not only to rehire laid off teachers to effectively staff schools on August 24, but also to lay off teachers in September, if necessary, to adjust for both financial and enrollment needs.
"The Board's actions ensure that we have additional teachers for our classrooms during the first month of school and also ensure our ability to retain as many of them as our enrollment figures and our budget allows," said Gordon.
"The decision to lay off staff and to eliminate positions is never an easy one," said Gordon. "But at the heart of our efforts to address what has become a budget crisis for schools across the nation has always been our commitment to providing the best education possible for our students, even within our budget limitations."
In the first year of CMSD's Academic Transformation Plan, the District moved from Academic Watch to Continuous Improvement, increased its graduation rate and saw double-digit gains in test scores. Gordon says he is optimistic about report card results expected later this month that will affirm the District is on the right path.
"Our academic and fiscal strategies have brought long needed changes in the way we operate and in the quality of education we provide," said Gordon. "We are operating more efficiently than ever, with fewer schools and fewer staff, and our school reform initiatives are making a difference."
Gordon added that projected budget deficits are so large that modifications in wages and benefits, staff layoffs, closed schools and reduced spending are not enough to sustain the District beyond two years.
The District has already taken aggressive steps to address its budget crisis, including closing schools, streamlining central office operations, imposing wage reductions and increasing benefit costs for non union employees, Gordon said.
"We have also negotiated similar wage and benefits changes with one of our unions and are grateful for the cooperation we have received," he said.
The district is currently in negotiations with several of its unions, including the Cleveland Teachers Union.