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Columbus School officials: 1300 layoffs possible

Columbus Public School officials say an $85 million deficit could mean some 1,300 employees, including teachers, may lose their jobs next year.

District leaders say the shortfall comes from a variety of factors; among them a loss in tax revenue and an increase in charter schools---which the district is required to fund.

Pheobe Wood, head of the district's budget and finance management division, says more than 80% of the district's budget is salary and benefits and while some cuts will come in other areas, layoffs would cause the most fiscal relief.

Wood adds the district hopes retirements will also help. She says on average some 200 teachers retire each year.

School officials say they have been operating from a 1995 levy that was only meant to last three years.

School board members and district superintendent Gene Harris said last year during their facilities planning campaign they would need to pass another operating levy this year to prevent serious cutbacks.

District officials have yet to officially say if they will be on the ballot this fall.

John Grossman, president of the Columbus Education Association, the district's teacher's union, says the potential layoffs do not surprise him. He says it is far more important that the layoffs do not affect classroom instruction.

Grossman says the union plans to begin talks in coming weeks with district offiicals about the possible job losses.