The Columbus City Schools board last night approved a new round of cuts intended to close a 50 million dollar gap, and discussed plans for new summer school programs. Alison Holm has more.
The largest savings in the package approved last night come from building closures approved earlier this year, which will save the district $8.9 million dollars. Declining student enrollment and other streamlining measures will allow the district to trim as many 200 positions, which will save an additional 4 million, mostly through retirements and attrition, although budget director Robin Essman says some layoffs are possible. Switching the district's two year-round programs, Weinland Park Elementary and Africentric k-12 to a traditional school year model will save 1.2 million dollars, and further reducing the number of COTA bus passes to 9th and 10th graders will cut an additional 466-thousand dollars. The board unanimously approved the cuts; the complete budget is expected to be released in the next few weeks.
The board also heard last night about a wide range of summer programs, many being offered for the first time. One of these, at Clinton Elementary, will be open to any district student who failed to make the cutoff score on the Ohio Achievement Assessment for third grade reading. Under state law, students who failed the fall and the spring tests will have one more chance to pass in mid summer. David Baker, director of School Leadership Development, admits getting the word out to students affected will be tricky, since the results of the spring test won't be available until the day before summer school starts.
Baker: And so we have actually pre-identified students, students who were not successful on the fall administration of the assessment, targeting those students to make sure that they get into summer school just in case they weren't successful in the spring. And then certainly once we get those spring results back in the district, we're prepared to send out a mass letter out to all those families and invite them to summer school. Even though the programs have already started, we'll take them; we want them in for intervention.
Baker say several thousand students failed to pass the fall assessment, although he's confident that number will be significantly reduced with the spring results.
One of the other innovations this summer will be school-based intervention programs being offered at 22 elementary, 6 middle and 4 high schools in the district. Baker says the programs are designed by the individual schools to help students keep their skills sharp and avoid the "summer slide". They will be paid for by the schools out of their state and federal School Improvement Grants.
Baker says free breakfast and lunch will be offered at all the summer school sites, and in many cases, transportation will provided as well.