Cleveland Schools CEO Eugene Sanders held the first of four forums this week to update the community on the district’s transformation plan and dismal budget situation. ideastream®’s Michelle Kanu reports the meeting was full of rhetoric about the academic goals, but sparse on details about fixing the district’s money problems.
District CEO Eugene Sanders is still trying to garner community support for his academic transformation plan, a plan that has already closed 16 schools and shuffled students and staff around the district.
At Monday’s meeting, Sanders said he has already identified sixty of the $72 million dollars needed for the plan through federal grants like the Race to the Top competition and stimulus dollars.
However, that money can’t be used for operating costs, and the district is bracing for a $58 million budget gap in 2012. The impending shortfall is due to state funding cuts, declining tax dollars, and rising costs for staff salaries and benefits.
By law, the district is required to balance its budget every year, and Sanders said he and his staff are brainstorming long term solutions to the shortfall.
Sanders: “We will present a proposal to the board that will cover a $58 million deficit.”
Sanders declined to give details, or say whether it would focus on raising revenue, but he did indicate the plan might involve more cuts.
Sanders: “Clearly, one of the elements of our plan going forward does indeed involve shared sacrifices. If we’re going to fully implement the transformation plan, it’s going to take all of us making the sacrifice to make it happen.”
Sanders stopped short of saying the district will ask tax payers for help. The last time voters approved a levy for the district was in 1996.
Sanders said he wants to hear the community’s thoughts about the district’s budget situation so that he can include their perspective in the plan he presents to the school board. The district will have three more opportunities to hear from the community at the forums scheduled in December.