Cleveland Heights-University Heights schools to cut 52 positions

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CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio-- Dozens of teachers in a local school district will be out of a job before next school year.

Administrators blame declining enrollment for the cuts in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District.

Teachers rallied before the start of school at Cleveland Heights High School Monday morning, protesting a plan to cut 52 positions by the 2016-2017 school year.

Teachers’ union president Ari Klein teaches math at the school and has a child who is a senior there.

"We need to get out what we think is important and what's good for kids. And we've invested in teachers that have come to our district and love our kids, and hate to see that investment lost," Klein said.

Cleveland Heights-University Heights School superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon said the cuts are needed to make up for declining enrollment.  She said since 2007, the district has lost about 900 students and expects 800 more to leave over the next 10 years.

"They range from kindergarten teachers, elementary teachers, secondary high school teachers and administrators… We are making an effort to make sure that quality of education will not be disrupted," Dixon said.

"We cannot continue to see our enrollment decline and not making those decisions to make sure we're operating effectively and efficiently moving forward," said Dr. Dixon.

"We probably have lost about 50 members over the same period of time. It's not 50 teaching jobs over the last same period of time, so... I feel like we've already done some of this refining," said Klein.

Administrators said they expect average classroom sizes to increase from about 14 students per room to 22.

"You may see in some of our classes, three or four more students. And our high school classrooms, you may see a consolidation of some classes... For example French 3 and French 4 may be taught together," the superintendent said.

"We want to give individualized attention to kids who need it. So I think that making it a little bit higher is certainly going to impact our teachers and our kids," Klein said.

The cuts are expected to save the school district about $3.5 million.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education will begin considering the proposed layoffs at its meeting on April 5.

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