NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — Ahead of the May vote for a tax increase, North Olmsted City Schools — suffering from falling enrollment, flat funding and a fiscal deficit — are making good on their promise to cut operating expenses by $2 million.
“Through all of these listening sessions we had, it was pretty clear that taxpayers wanted to know that we are responsible for their tax dollars while maintaining those high standards of education that we expect and that children deserve,” North Olmsted City Schools Superintendent David J Brand said.
“That’s why we made the plan to put the $7.8 million levy to a vote this spring and committed to providing $2 million in ongoing cost reductions. Unfortunately, that means downsizing. If there are expenses that could be reduced or eliminated, we do that.”
After negotiations with various unions, the district announced last week that it would cut 25 jobs. The announced cuts will affect all levels of district operations.
Most of these concern teachers, followed by administrative and classified staff and purchasing services.
“Next year there will be 100 fewer employees than when the last operating tax was passed more than a decade ago,” Brand said.
“One example is our treasurer’s office. Previously it was the Treasurer with a team of five. In the future, it will be the Treasurer with a team of three that saves money.”
The recently announced cuts totaling $1.2 million come in addition to an expected $800,000 in savings related to the closure of Forest and Spruce elementary schools at the end of the school year as enrollment in the districts have declined 17 percent over the past 15 years.
A year after residents voted down an $8.5 million operating tax, the district returns to the vote in May with a combined new money issue that, if passed — costing a $100,000 homeowner $22.75 a month — will not not only providing funds for operations but also constructing a new PreK-5 building at a location to be determined.
“Not only would this levy cover the new preschool through the 5th grade building, but it would also solve the problems of the facilities, which would be much more cost-effective to operate in the short and long term,” Brand said.
“We are at an urgent juncture and this levy is critical to the district and community.”
If the combined output is passed, Brand said the district will enter the design phase with a goal of opening the new base building by the 2025-2026 school year.
However, the superintendent noted that the district does not have enough funds to run the 2023-2024 school year, meaning more cuts are on the horizon if voters don’t approve the forthcoming levy.
“If this levy were to fail, we would have to cut another million dollars,” Brand said. “These will be announced here shortly.”
A working group between the Pine Intermediate School and the Birch Primary School is currently deciding on the exact location of the planned PreK-5 new building.
A decision by the 45-strong group – consisting of citizenship, business, education, neighborhood and parents – is expected shortly.
“The task force is doing a great job,” Brand said. “After a final meeting, they will make their choices and present them to the board. The announcement should be made by the end of the week if not sooner.”
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