Treasurer: Dayton school layoffs could save $2.4 million in first quarter

Dayton Public Schools' temporary layoffs and furloughs would save the school district about $2.4 million if they last only through the first quarter of the school year, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha said.

In a 4-3 vote last month, Dayton’s school board approved the layoff or furlough of 241 staff members during its remote learning period. That online school period started Tuesday and will last at least nine weeks, with DPS leadership expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to return in-person for the second quarter.

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Abraha listed an estimated savings of $2,447,941 over nine weeks, although she said those numbers are subject to change. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, the board already approved the recall of one assistant principal and two assistant athletic directors who had been laid off.

Abraha’s chart shows the temporary layoff of teachers union staff (teachers, nurses, counselors, etc.) would account for $1,663,623 of the savings, with the other savings coming from layoffs and furloughs of administration / support staff ($316,234), bus drivers ($309,885) and clerical staff ($158,198).

Abraha said at the time of the layoff vote that the district is “financially OK” at this point, with $110 million in the bank (40% of a year’s expenses).

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But the district’s five-year forecast does estimate a massive $53 million deficit this school year. That’s due to a $30 million spending increase (nearly two-thirds tied to staffing) and a $19 million revenue reduction, nearly all from a projected reduction in state funding, as state tax revenue declines.

Most of the teachers union staff laid off were school nurses, plus art, music, physical education and preschool teachers.

Teachers union President David Romick argued the cost savings come at the expense of the well-rounded education and services those staff provide to students.

Abraha and Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli both said the cuts were the fiscally responsible thing to do. Both said there wasn’t work for many of the affected staff to do while students are learning from home, and Lolli said many of the academic courses affected can’t be taught as well online.

The teachers union and three school board members disagreed with that approach, pointing out that most other school districts are still having those staff teach their students during online learning.

“The budget is being adjusted on those who are most needed and on the students and families who need us most,” Romick said.

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