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Westlake Schools Prepare for Millions in Cuts Under Proposed State Budget

Officials are planning to maintain quality education but waiting for more details.

The Westlake City School District is facing millions in cuts under Gov. John Kasich's proposed state budget, forcing administrators to plan for a leaner school year.

“We’ll lose somewhere in the $2-$3 million range as it looks now,” said Superintendent Dan Keenan. “We have a forecast, so we accounted for some of that loss, but it’s a lot bigger than we anticipated.”

Of the district’s $50 million annual budget, $6.5 million comes from various state sources. Considering the lagging economy, officials had planned for a 17 percent cut in state funding over the next two years. The district is now facing a budget hole two or even three times as large.

Statewide, the proposed state budget would reduce school funding by $3.1 billion. The majority of cuts would come from proposed changes to the tangible personal property tax, public utility funds and basic aid.

“While budget details are still sketchy at this point, Westlake is slated to receive a reduction in all three areas,” said Treasurer Mark Pepera.

The biggest chunk of the district's state funding comes from the tangible personal property tax. While school administrators were expecting the tax to be phased out over the next 7 years, it would be eliminated in just 2 years under the proposed budget.

According to Keenan, the district has zeroed the operational budget for the last two years and will either freeze the budget or reduce it next year. However, due to increasing costs of things like utilities and fuel, zeroing the budget leaves the district with even less funding than the year before.

“When you say zero, you have to take some money out for things we can’t control,” Keenan said. “I can’t control fuel costs, but I can control field trips.”

Keenan said the district is also going to zero the personnel budget and consider reducing positions.

“It will be challenging,” Keenan said. “We’re trying to do the best we can to provide great service and make sure it’s at a value. These times are calling for stronger measures.”

Admnistrators eliminated some teaching positions last year and this year in an effort to make way for an International Baccalaureate program and all-day kindergarten. Keenan said further reductions will be considered very carefully.

“We know we’re going to have to make some other changes. We’re talking right now and examining how that will impact the schools,” Keenan said “We start from what we know we need to protect in terms of our continuous improvement plan. We’re trying to look at things we can do for expense as far away from the classroom as possible, but that’s not always possible.”

As more information comes out, Pepera said members of the administration and the school board will continue analyzing the budget.

“(They) will be prepared to make any necessary adjustments to maintain our commitments to our local taxpayers of maintaining our mission of providing excellence to our student population and 'stretching' the dollars they have entrusted to us as long as possible” he said. “In fact, the superintendent has been very proactive and has already communicated potential staffing reductions for next fiscal year with our board and staff.”

Reporter contributed to this story.

RustBelter March 25, 2011 at 10:49 AM
Why not cut salaries. The avg teacher is compensated about 85k per 9 month year
Nicole Spirgen March 26, 2011 at 12:34 AM
Would you mind sharing where you got that number? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2009 data, the average teacher's salary in Ohio is between $50,620 and $54,530, depending on the position. More information can be found here: http://www.alleducationschools.com/education-careers/teaching-usa/ohio-teacher and here http://www.teachersalaryinfo.com/average-teacher-salary-ohio.html
Lori Sherman Jolliffe March 28, 2011 at 12:52 PM
And 9-month year is incorrect, as well...students are in school Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May and June...leaving only the month of July completely "off"...
RustBelter March 31, 2011 at 03:05 PM
OK. Teacers work 180 days 180/20 = 9 months. thats not counting the time they get off for personal and sick days.
RustBelter March 31, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Nicole, in THIS county the avg yearly compensation for a public school teachers about 85k. google buckeye institute or ask CMSD CEO.
love2teach April 06, 2011 at 01:00 PM
Why not cut your salary RustBelter?? Would you be able to afford your current living situation? BTW...teachers work all school year. We spend our summers taking classes (at addition out of pocket cost) in order to maintain our licenses, we also spend countless hours doing work AFTER school every day of the school year. So...I spend 45+ at the school and an additional 15-20 at home doing grades, communicating with parents, developing curriculum and units and shopping (spending my own money) to purchase things for my classroom. Did I mentions that I may in the 30's???? So please before making a statement that the average teacher makes 85LOLLOLOLOLOLOLOL--- take a look at the bigger picture or better yet do a teachers job for a quarter and then come back and tell us all how cutting our salaries is going to fix the problem that was created by ...the government-- FIRST the tax payers bailed out the banks, then the car industry and now lets hit up the middle class teachers for some more money.
RustBelter April 06, 2011 at 11:39 PM
you are not a public school teacher, correct??
love2teach April 06, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Incorrect- I do work in a public school district- do you have access to the pay scales? You may want to take a look at them and keep in mind that not everyone is at the top of the scale.
RustBelter April 07, 2011 at 11:42 AM
which school district do you work for? I dont believe your story. The avg teacher in this county makes a salary of about 65k and about 20k in benefits. http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/teacher-salary http://www.cleveland.com/datacentral/index.ssf/2009/04/cleveland_teacher_pay_ranks_ne.html
love2teach April 08, 2011 at 02:54 AM
An average is just that- I am sure that I do not need to explain to you how to determine an average $ amount. Again, if you take a look at the pay scale for any public district you will see that starting salaries are no where near the 65K mark- it takes years of service and graduate credits to move up the pay scale. Experience and further education thus increases a teachers salary. So indeed, believe it or not, a public school teacher stating that they make in the 30s is correct and justification is not necessary.
RustBelter April 08, 2011 at 12:10 PM
Well the state of Ohio says that the avg in this county is about 65k + 20k benefits. I believe most starting pays are in the high 30s. Yes it is unjust that so many teachers are making 80k+ while so many are making 37k for doing the same job. That is what gov K is trying to correct with sb5.
RustBelter April 11, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Give me a link! But the avg compensation for teachers in this county is about 82k. Thems the facts maam. Anyone can look it up. You can claim you make 8$ per hour but that is not going to change reality.
Westlake Resident-Joe Smith April 20, 2011 at 04:24 PM
Rust- What is your salary, expererience, profession, and level of education? As a public school teacher I am in the 80K range. That is with nearly 20 years experience. The State has mandated that I renew my license every 5 years with 6 semester hours of graduate level credit. So my cost out of pocket is approximately $2000 plus the time to complete the coursework every 5 years. I have already invested about 20K in mandated Master's Degree and additional hours. Would be interesting to compare apples to apples with other professions with simililar mandates and advancement of education requirments. Feel free to share any other stats you can dig up for a fair comparison? Remember 20 years experience! Also, I will need to invest 6-10K over the next 15-20 years for license renewals do to required coursework.
RustBelter April 20, 2011 at 06:24 PM
80k?? with benefits that over 110k for a part time job. way, way, WAY too much! So you have to take a course every 5 years? big deal! Duh! MAs are NOT mandated. Please do not lie! Your course work is 400$ per year for a job that pays annually something like 130k and you are complaining. Some advice: Please quit! Look, I do not want a person with your attitude corrupting kids. There are at least 100 very qualified Ed grads who will take your job for 1/2 the price. Stop whining and Quit! Take your marketable skills (LOL) to the private sector. I hear McDs is hiring!
Westlake Resident-Joe Smith April 20, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Rust- I refuse to argue with ignorance, but I need to correct you. The ODE just recently changed requirments for a MA requirement. So many current teachers were required to obtain their MA. You can read more here... http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/6103514/ohio_teachers_no_longer_required_to.html Graduate level coursework currently costs around $350 per semester hour. Teachers are required to earn 6 semester hours every 5 years. That can be 2-3 courses, not one. I will let you do the math. Still interested in an answer to my original question. What is your salary, expererience, profession, and level of education? I am simply explaining facts and making fair comparisons. Stick to facts rather than opinion and we can have an intelligent debate.
RustBelter April 20, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Well, I am sorry you have problems reading. I did not say in the past it was not required. And I am fairly certain even in the PAST it was NOT required. Anyhow my point is that to equate the job of teaching 2nd grade with that of an engineer is ludicrous. An Ed degree is one of the easiest maybe with the exception of basketweaving. The MA course are snap courses that can be done on line. Again even YOU say the cost is only abotu $400 per per. A cheap price to maintain the ability to get paid 100k per year for basically babysitting. If you are unhappy please quit! Your skills at most are worth 35k in the public sector. There are thousands of out of work Ed degrees willing to do your job for 1/3 the cost. The arrogance of public school 'teachers' is going to be their demise. To expect engineer wages to babysit is simply ignorant arrogance.
Westlake Resident-Joe Smith April 21, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Rust, Regretfully, I feel it best to end any effort to have an intelligent debate with you. It is you that is displaying ignorant arrogance by equating a highly educated professional with a babysitter. Afterall, it is the teachers that help develop the skills and abilities of the engineer. Assuming you are an engineer please check your math skills. If graduate level courses cost about $350 per semester hour, then 6 semester hours per 5 years would cost about $2100. Although your math is not clear based on your typo. I am not unhappy with my position or salary. Never said I was. It is you that is unhappy. I was simply making it clear the difference between the 80K and 37K salaries that you mentioned which is based on education and experience. Unlike a person that I am close with that is an engineer, he recieves bonuses on top of his salary over 100K. Perhaps you or your engineer friend should seek employment elsewhere if you feel you are more valuable. But, based on your statement, once an experienced teacher reaches a salary cap they should be replaced with a lesser experienced teacher at a lower cost. Maybe this is a good financial decision, but poor decision for educating our youth. I am sure there are many willing to take your job at a lower wage as well. Also known as forced into retirement. I do not wish that upon you or anybody especially since I also have friends that this has happened to. I wish you the best in your endeavor for happiness.
RustBelter April 21, 2011 at 02:44 PM
You are being deceptive that is the problem. You are lying about how much its costs to maintain a babysitting license. You are arrogantly ignorant to think a 2nd grade teacher has a skill set that anywhere nears an Engineer. If you were not ignorant of the studies on this you would know that a babysitter with 5 years experience is as effective as one with 35 years experience. Using your same faulty logic we should pay burger flippers with one yr exp $8 per hour and those with 30, 24$ per hour. You seem to be ignorant of the basics of math and Econ 101. That is probably because you have an inadequate education. And you are ignorant of what engineers make. You seem very, very out of touch of what goes on outside your babysitting job. I think we need to bring in people with REAL life experience to teach kids. No, sorry grade school babysitters do not train engineers. Another ignorant statement And you say we should not replace old ineffective teachers with young energetic ones? Well that shows that you want the schools to be welfare agencies for old babysitters, NOT places of learning. I thought we were supposed to think of the KIDS first.
Westlake Guy April 25, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Rust Belter - I've been following these posts. Intriguing. You sound like a guy with REAL life experience and could probably have a lot of offer our youth. Why don't you sign up to be a substitute or long term sub? You wouldn't have to commit to a career in babysitting and you would get the wonderful opportunity to teach a class of 2nd graders REAL world experience!
love2teach April 29, 2011 at 03:22 AM
Would love to see that classroom!
Westlake Resident-Joe Smith April 29, 2011 at 05:56 AM
RustBelter would not dare step into the classroom. It is his type that refuses to admit when he is wrong or fears being proven wrong. It appears he is the type of person that would rather vent his anger and unhappiness with issues, rather than make an improvement. To all who have the same views of Rust I offer you a challenge. Go get your teaching license, get a teaching job, and see what it is like to be a teacher or any position in education. If it is so easy then why isn't everybody doing it? A little advice... Do not make judgment on a career or postion unless you have been there firsthand to experience that specfic job. While I have been a teacher a majority of my career I do have experiences in other areas. I especially have a great respect with those involved in the trades of construction. Not only do these people display physical strength and endurance, but great skills and knowledge to be efficient. Computer Technicians and Programmers have great problem solving skill set to just mention a couple great attributes. Good Engineers work wonders with numbers to solve problems. Overall though it starts with teachers.
RustBelter May 02, 2011 at 10:51 AM
I have taught in public schools already. Its not hard. It does not take a lot of skill. That is my point. I see no reason why people who watch kids should not get a fair wage. But 82k avg in this county is way, way too much for 9 months work. Public school labor costs need to come down by at least 20%. That is my point. How about allowing volunteer teachers to keep the costs down? How about hiring young teachers who are just as effective as the old ones? Why pay an old teacher twice as much as a young one? These are problems
Cynthea Sabolich October 14, 2011 at 06:50 PM
According to Dr. Keenan, at a public school board meeting, the average pay for a Westlake teacher, and this is $$/hour and not inclusive of benefits, for 185 days is $72,000. However, at Basset K-4, the average teacher pay is $76,846, while at the HS it is $66,000. So our 3rd graders need higher paid teachers than the advanced calculus class? This is why we need Geoff Rapp and Robert Bodi to be hired to look at whether or not we are paying to the teacher or paying to the student. And if you want to know how much the teacher makes, it is public info via the school, or via the State of Ohio, or via the Buckeye Institute at http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/. At our current rate, we will be $14 million in debt by 2016 but we will still be on the hook for 6% pay increases - not cost of living - just flat out increases. Please Westlake citizens, wake up to the facts of how the money is spent and how it doesn't always make sense. Do we love our teachers? Yes. Do we love paying the 80% of their salary after 30 years for their rest of their lives? We don't have the money.

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