Centerville teacher cuts: Neediest shouldn’t do ‘majority of suffering’

The Centerville school district is cutting 18.5 teaching positions after two board of education members voted “reluctantly” for a plan criticized for its impact on special education.

Nine teaching jobs in the reduction in force adopted by the board in a 4-1 vote Monday night were in special needs, prompting a handful of residents to question the move.

Board members David Roer and Jeff Shroyer opted not to join Megan Sparks in voting against the cuts, allowing the measure to pass.

Superintendent Tom Henderson proposed the teaching cuts as part of a 31.5-job shift in the wake of $2.12 million state cuts announced after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

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“I will support this because” the administration “has done good due diligence in working this out and trying to do what’s best for the district,” Roer said.

He did so with the caveat that if Centerville schools has future teaching vacancies “we do everything we can to bring back these positions, especially the special ed positions that I do agree are much needed in this district.”

Several residents sent messages for the virtual meeting questioning the job cuts. A handful of the complaints focused on nearly half of the positions impacting special needs students.

“Our population is vulnerable and requires special consideration when making such changes,” one parent said in her message.

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Forty-year Centerville resident Ann Mundhenk said she finds it “unacceptable that half of the proposed position cuts are special education teachers.

“I understand the district needs to make adjustments due to funding cuts,” her message said. “However, the neediest students should not be expected to carry the majority of the suffering.”

Others questioned why the cuts were needed after Centerville school district voters in November passed a 6.9-mill permanent levy. The Montgomery County Auditor’s Office said last year it will raise $12.3 million per year for the schools, which have an annual general fund budget of about $100 million.

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Henderson said the district reviewed needs for personnel – which consumes more than 88% of its budget - based on enrollment and staffing.

“We’ve worked hard to be fiscally responsible and make sure we always make good decisions,” he said.

“We review the budget reductions that we always seem to get from the state of Ohio,” Henderson added. “We look at our funding projections for the future and we look at the impact of all that we’ve planned for the next school year and for the long-term financial health of the district.”

The state cuts announced last month hit Centerville especially hard among local school districts. It will lose more than Dayton, which was reduced by $2.01 million, according to the state.

Several local districts — including Bellbrook, Beavercreek, Tipp City, Lebanon and Springboro - will lose 2 to 2.5%, according to the state. Others, such as Mad River and Trotwood, will lose less than 1%.

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The coronavirus pandemic dropped state tax collections by $867 million below estimates in April, a state official said.

Henderson said last week the moves would involve two administrative positions and 13 other staff jobs from attrition.

One administrator retired and another moved into a teaching position, according to Sarah Swan, district community relations specialist.

Meanwhile, Centerville will get an $483,000 increase from the federal CARES Act, and a $741,000 bump from House Bill 164, which was passed earlier this month.

Centerville Interim Treasurer Laura Sauber said the district can use those funds for staffing. However, they are not annual allocations.

“It doesn’t change the overall trend of our financial picture,” Sauber said.

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The Centerville board of education has approved cutting 18.5 teaching positions. Here is a breakdown of the jobs cut:

•8 in grades K-12 special education

•2 in grades PreK-5 regular education

•2 in grades 4-9 regular education

•2 in grades K-12 Spanish

•1 in grades PreK-3 special education

•1 in grades K-12 French

•1 in grades 7-12 science

•1 in grades 7-12 math

•0.5 in grades K-12 music.

SOURCE: Centerville City Schools.

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