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Columbus School Board Faces Budget Decisions, Possible Lay-offs

The Columbus Public School system could be in for a big change in the next few years due to large budget cuts. Some of the changes could include layoffs and school closings.

A revised five-year financial plan presented to the Columbus Board of Education Monday night suggests $50,000,000 will have to be cut from the school system's budget. The cuts will have to be made in fiscal years 2007 and 2008.

School superintendent Gene Harris says it's unsure at this time who or what those cuts will affect. "We know that 83 to 85 percent of our budget is personnel. So we know personnel will be affected somewhere but how we don't know and to what extent we don't know because there are other policy level decisions we could consider too transportation, how we transport our students and other considerations that we are just beginning to think about would be things that we would need to think about also." Harris says. The system has been losing students to charter and private schools since 2000. School board treasurer Michael Kinneer predicts five-thousand more students will leave Columbus Public Schools by the end of the 2007 school year. That means the system could lose up to $45,000,000 in state aid in the next two years. And with that kind of loss, Kinneer says about a thousand jobs will have to be cut to stay within the budget.