Published: Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Administration restructuring in plan to cope with deficit
The board is expected to approve a list of possible teacher layoffs this month.
By HAROLD GWIN
YOUNGSTOWN The ranks of Youngstown city school administrators will see retirements and reassignments but no layoffs of full-time employees under a proposed spending reduction plan.
Youngstown is facing a $4 million budget deficit this year, and projections for 2006-07 show an $11.7 million shortfall.
The Ohio Department of Education has placed the district under fiscal caution as a result.
The administration has proposed eliminating nearly 100 jobs, cutting back on supplies and intervention programs and persuading some teachers to retire as a way to cut $8.5 million in spending for 2006-07.
The plan includes the elimination of 21.5 administrative positions, 56 teaching posts and 18 classified staff positions.
The school board has yet to officially approve the spending reduction plan, but the administration already has begun restructuring its ranks for next school year.
The changes are expected to save the district about $1.1 million in salary and benefit costs.
Dr. Wendy Webb, superintendent, said three vacancies won't be filled an assistant superintendent, director of instruction and executive director of school improvements.
Germaine Bennett, assistant superintendent of human resources, said three administrators have announced plans to retire and a fourth is resigning at the end of this school year.
Eight others are returning to the classroom as teachers, and two principals will be reassigned as assistant principals with accompanying pay reductions, Bennett said.
Four retired principals who have been working as utility administrators under hourly contracts won't be back, she said.
Melvin Lars, principal at Woodrow Wilson High School, is resigning, and principals Sandra Graves-Smith at Athena School of Excellence for Girls and Ken Ekis at Southside Upper Elementary School are being reassigned as assistant principals, Bennett said.
The district is closing Sheridan and Cleveland elementary schools at the end of this school year and won't need as many principals next year, she said.
Janet Carpenter, supervisor of school nurses; Dolores Johnson, LPN supervisor; and Auggie Ruggiero, academic liaison for home and school, are retiring at the end of this school year, she said.
Eight teachers on special assignment who had been acting as assistant principals will return to the classroom as teachers next year, Bennett said. All have retained their seniority in the teaching ranks, she said.
The district brought back four retired principals this year to work as utility administrators on an hourly basis, two assigned at Wilson and one each at Taft and Southside Upper schools.
They won't be brought back next year, Bennett said.
The district's 66-member administrative association has agreed to take a pay freeze next year, said Kathleen Sauline, supervisor of libraries and media services.
There are a handful of people at various steps in the district's administrative salary scale who will automatically advance to the next step and see some increase, but most of the administrators are already at the top of their scale and won't get any additional money, she added.
The teacher, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees and five craft unions have approved similar contract arrangements for next year.
The district will still have to come up with about $400,000 in additional funds next year just to cover salary-step increases, however.
Later this month, the school board is expected to be presented with a list of likely teacher furloughs.
There could be 56 names on that list, but it might be fewer, depending upon how many teachers decide to retire, Bennett said.
The board approved an incentive package in March for teachers who have reached retirement age. It's a $30,000 deal spread over three years, with half the money going directly into health-care retirement accounts and the other half into 403B retirement accounts.
Carolyn Funk, district treasurer, said the hope is that at least 35 teachers take advantage of the incentive. Youngstown will save $10,000 per year on each retiree, based on the difference between the top salaries they are making versus starting salaries for new teachers replacing them, she said.