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Columbus School Board Cuts $29 Million

The Columbus Board of Education has voted to cut nearly $29 million from next year's budget. Yesterday's decision means the loss of some 200 teaching positions and the closing of 12 schools. WOSU's Sam Hendren reports.

As they had in past, members of the Columbus school board again listened to pleas and protest from the public.

"I am alarmed and concerned about the future of this district...

"I implore you to give the deepest consideration to continue to provide funding for instructors and materials for this vital subject..."

But as one young woman cried quietly in the audience Board President Terry Boyd said their comments had not gone unheeded.

"Yes we do have open hearts, yes we are listening. Yes we have listened. Your comments have not fallen on deaf ears. These individuals have spent far too many hours contemplating what we needed to do as far as this district is concerned," said Boyd.

Just before the vote, Boyd reminded the audience the school board was bound by a promise made in 2004. In exchange for approving an additional 6.95 mil levy, the board would restrict budget growth to 3%.

"Now therefore be it resolved that the board adopt Option 3 as detailed in the attached document titled Fiscal Year '07, which would result in a reduction of approximately $28.9 million," Boyd said.

The Board voted unanimously to accept Option 3. Some 200 teachers will lose their jobs. Ten elementary and two middle schools will be shut down. Staff members including custodians, counselors and administrators, will also be cut. The teaching day will be shortened but students will have the option to take extra classes.

"The board members need to come down to our level. They need to do whatever they can to keep Columbus public schools alive," said 39-year-old Roszell King, who praised the school system for allowing her work toward a high school diploma through a non-traditional method. Though she expects to graduate before the North Education Center for adults shuts down, she's upset that others won't have the same opportunity.

"I'm a taxpayer; a registered voter, and I will not vote for another levy to be passed for them to close more schools down and take more of my hard earned money for these things to happen," said King.

Because of yesterday's cuts, the North center's 13 teachers and five staff members will eventually lose their jobs. Sam Hendren, WOSU News