School District Pieces Together Community Responses to Budget Cuts
The Twinsburg City School District released the data of how people responded to questions at the community forums
Twinsburg community members largely support a new levy but have more mixed feelings about reducing busing options, according to results from a community survey given by Twinsburg City Schools.
The district revealed new data showing how more than 700 members of the community responded to the 46 different options being considered as part of $6 million in potential cuts.
Superintendent Kathryn Powers said the responses from the three community forums, as well as answers from current staff, was a "temperature check" on the community. She said certain things can be redefined based on the community’s response.
"We really believe in being transparent in the information and recognizing all members of the community who offered their opinion on these options," Powers said.
"This is one piece of the giant puzzle we need to put together for this plan," Powers added.
Reading the thermometer
Community members were given answer sheets where they could agree, disagree, or remain neutral regarding the various options.
The community overwhelmingly agreed with every suggestion for cutting operational expenses, with every option having at least 480 votes in agreement. These cuts could save the district $370,000.
Not all issues were that clear. While respondents mostly agreed with cost avoidance options, like having a flat or percentage fee for pay-to-play, feelings on the issue of busing were mixed. People were more favorable to minimizing busing to the high school and middle school (those living farther than 1.5 miles) and corner stops for students. Slightly more people disagreed with the state minimum for busing (only for those living two or more miles for K-12). A majority disagreed with both eliminating high school busing and privatizing transportation.
Cuts to administrative personnel were mostly agreed upon, except for a close call in the idea of cuts to school psycologists (271 agreed, 236 disagreed, and 203 remained neutral).
Respondents thought the most important classified positions to keep were those of paraprofessionals and technology staff, with both positions getting votes against cuts.
The most opposition to the certificated personnel options was against cutting special education positions and restructuring the kindergarten from full day to every other day. The community also disagreed with restructuring the high school day and electives, as well as restructuring the middle school day. Most did vote in favor of cutting certain supplemental contracts, estimated at $77,000.
Show me the money
Finally, the community was asked how it felt about a levy in 2012. The only problem was people gave three answers when there were only two options, making the data unusable. However, assitant Superintendent Mike Lenzo thought the final option offered some clarity.
Community members were asked if they agreed with a 4.9 mill or 6.9 mill levy, or no new levy. According to the data, 131 agreed with a 4.9 mill levy, 147 agreed with a 6.9 mill, and 82 didn't want a new levy.
”We appreciate the time and effort everone took to help us, but we have a difficult task ahead of us,” Lenzo said.
The next steps
That task continues Wednesday, Jan. 25 when the board meets to set financial goals and attach dollar amounts to the options they may look at, taking into account the feedback from the forums.
At the Feb. 1 regular meeting, those goals will be finalized and voted on by the board.
Employees affected by the changes will be told between March 19 and April 5. The final plan for budget cuts will be presented to the board and voted on at the April 19 meeting.
"There are certain things, that unless you live in that environment, you don’t know how they affect students in the classroom,” said board President Ron Stuver, adding that the board is reliant on the knowledge of district's staff to understand how these changes could affect the district in the future.
The district did answer many of the questions posed at the forums in a FAQs page on the district website, along with slides from the presentation.