Cleveland Metropolitan School District required to plan budget cuts if levy fails

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon warned of “deep cuts” to the budget if Issue 68 fails in November.

Gordon, in a letter on Tuesday, said since the Ohio Department of Education placed CMSD into the status of fiscal caution, it must prepare a fiscal recovery plan to show how it would balance the budget if the levy fails. He stressed this is a theoretical exercise required by the state and it’s not meant to scare voters or respond to any anti-Issue 68 groups.

“It is also important to know that this effort and the attention it will no doubt bring is in no way a response to the currently levy’s organized opposition. In fact, we did not know that there would be organized opposition or who that opposition might even be when notified of this requirement on June 30,” Gordon said.

He further explained the cuts during Tuesday’s school board meeting. They include closing 25 schools, slashing $16 million in programs and cutting 15 percent of the workforce.

“We haven’t had new money in 8 years, levies don’t keep up with inflation and so we simply have to catch up with inflation,” he told FOX 8 on Thursday.

Funds will also be used to continue replenishing smart devices.

“We’ve deployed over 37,000 devices; we’ve also deployed over 20,000 hotspots. The levy will allow us to replace a quarter of those devices every year because devices have a 4-year life.”

Gordon also said he will likely make a recommendation on how to proceed for the second quarter of the school year amid the coronavirus pandemic by Friday. Currently, the district is all remote, but could move to a blended model.

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