Most of Akron school cuts are teachers, tutors

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - Akron Public Schools will eliminate more than 90 positions for the next school year, nearly two thirds of those cuts are teacher or tutor positions.

A big reason for many of the cuts is the closure of three schools, Kent Middle School, Kenmore High School and Bettes Elementary school.

According to district's superintendent David James, the district has capacity for 30,000 students, but only 21,000 are enrolled. James said the consolidation and cuts will save the district about $6.7 million.

The president of the Akron Education Association, Patricia Shipe, said that the cuts will affect "all areas at the secondary levels."

She said she thinks cost savings could have been made elsewhere, like on the administrative level. Three administrative positions were cut.

"Most of the administrative - or the few I should say - administrative cuts are being made through attrition. Most of the teacher cuts or tutor cuts are being made with bodies in the classroom," said Shipe.

Akron Public Schools cuts staff; enrollment down 17.9%

She went on to say, "We're all working to educate our children, but those educators in the classroom with their hands in the classroom on a daily basis are the front line to those students, and those are always the first to be impacted and I'm not so sure that we don't have that backwards."

Shipe said she was also concerned about what the cuts would mean to class sizes, and individual student attention.

"You see small groups throughout the classroom, you see multiple educators throughout the classroom, teaching to those diversified students. When those people are removed from the classroom, and you have less educators in the classroom, that impacts instruction," said Shipe.  "We cannot be constantly making cuts and more cuts, and more cuts, and more cuts we have to determine if those cuts are justifiable and are we going to value it enough to find ways to give every child the same equal equitable education and the ability to be successful in life."

James said that he thinks it's too early to determine if the layoffs will adversely affect students in the classroom. He said that it's his, and the school board's, responsibility to be fiscally responsible.

"Of course the teachers make up the lion's share of our employees I don't have a place to have teachers sit and have nothing to do, so when you look at two buildings we merged they were both smaller buildings so we took the economies of scale by combining them into one and we don't need that number of teachers to serve that number of students that are left," said James. "I have to make adjustments because I have to think about the senior citizens who are on a fixed income and their homes and still support the district with their tax dollars."

James said that the consolidation will ensure that the school district doesn't ask taxpayers for additional money on a ballot for an additional year.

The union and the school district both attributed the cut in many tutor positions to cuts to, and changes in, how Title 1 funding to schools. Title 1 funding is historically awarded to school districts with a high percentage of low income students.

There is the potential that some of the positions may be recalled depending on retirement and enrollment numbers, something the union president said they're "hopeful" about.

Copyright 2017 WOIO. All rights reserved.