Teachers tensions rise at Cleveland School Board meeting - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Teachers tensions rise at Cleveland School Board meeting

Cleveland School Board meeting Cleveland School Board meeting
Cleveland School Board meeting Cleveland School Board meeting
Cleveland School Board meeting Cleveland School Board meeting

Cleveland teachers and many parents showed up to voice their concern to the school board Tuesday night.

They are angry over proposed cuts to the budget.

The Cleveland school district is adopting what is called Student-Based budgeting in order to trim $21 million from their expenses -- but promises there will be no teacher layoffs.

Student-Based budgeting allocates money to schools based on the number of students and their individual needs.

Officials say cuts are needed due to declining enrollment.

The following information was sent to 19 Action News by district officials after Tuesday night's meeting:

CMSD will reduce spending this year, but a new system that shifts much more control of budgeting to individual schools is not to blame, Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

Gordon responded to the Cleveland Teachers Union's charges that the decision to give schools more autonomy is just cover for a move to slash spending and eliminate jobs. Teachers protested Tuesday as the board met at Buhrer Dual Language School.

Though voters approved an operating levy in November 2012, declining enrollment is expected to reduce state revenue, Gordon said.

The District will eliminate jobs but expects to avoid layoffs by not replacing teachers who retire or resign, Gordon said. He said the District pledged not to lay off teachers this school year and agreed with CTU to make the reductions over two years through attrition.

New student-based budgeting, a core principle of The Cleveland Plan, allocates money to individual schools based on the number of students and needs such as special education, gifted education or instruction in English as a second language. The idea is to put authority in the hands of the people who know best what can help raise their children's achievement.

Student-based budgeting "is a net zero sum approach," Gordon told board members.  "What it does is distribute available dollars in a more equitable and transparent way."

Gordon said nine principals and nine employees from the central office worked for a year and a half to develop the budgeting system.

Principals Gerard Leslie of Marion-Sterling PreK-8 School and Erin Frew of New Tech West high school acknowledge that their building teams face hard budget decisions. They also welcomed the increased accountability and said the pressure to stem enrollment decline will force them to focus on marketing.

"Before you could blame it on someone else," Leslie said. "‘It's their fault we didn't get it. These new people, it's their fault we didn't get the resources. It's their fault we didn't get the PD (professional development, or training).' Now, it's kind of like looking internally, what did your team choose."

The two principals have embraced their schools' new autonomy and are happy that choices now rest largely with those who are most qualified to help their students overcome challenges.

"I'd rather my team of people and I make the decisions about how we are going to solve those problems because we know our kids," Frew said."They are living, breathing beings for us that we talk to every day and that we love."

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