Teachers, parents speak out about proposed Columbus City Schools cuts

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — For the first time, frustrated parents and teachers in the Columbus City School District got to speak out about proposed budget cuts. The school district said it has to slash 21 million dollars and possibly more than 150 jobs; cuts that could include teachers and administrators to janitorial staff.

Board members call the cuts painful and blame the state funding formula for shortchanging the district to the tune of $100 million dollars. People who spoke out at the meeting agreed the state could be doing more, but said other things should go before cuts hit the classroom.

 “I come here today not only as a proud teacher and coach at Columbus City Schools, but as a taxpayer and active member in Westgate,” said Columbus West teacher and head wrestling and assistant football coach Felix Catheline.

Catheline was the first to take the microphone during Tuesday’s public comment segment of the school board meeting. He voiced his concerns about the proposed budget cuts.

“I don’t think there’s anyone with nefarious motives or anything, but when they’re looking at the big picture I think they miss a lot of the details,” said Catheline.

 The proud coach who calls his wrestlers his, “kids” said there are obvious cuts, like professional development for board members, that can be made before impacting the classroom.

“We really need to look at some of this non-essential spending because there’s a ton of it. And, if we’re going to talk about cutting things that are getting back to the classroom, that conversation should never start until those non-essentials are dealt with,” he said.

 Mom of two Karen Staley agrees.

“I am disappointed we are looking at staffing and teaching reductions in light of the fact that we had a levy several years ago,” said Staley.

 She had a different idea for where money can be saved.

 “I think certainly when you’re looking at a budget you need to look at administration. I don’t see as many line items in the administrative budget cuts as I would have liked to have seen,” said Staley.

No decisions were made Tuesday. The board hopes to start deciding on the proposed budget cuts by March.

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