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The next CPS budget might cut positions added during the pandemic

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Cincinnati Public Schools
Screenshot from Jun. 22, 2022 meeting

The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education is set to vote on the 2023 fiscal year budget next Monday.

The district's five-year budget forecast targeted $613 million for fiscal year 2023; the budget draft presented Wednesday is $608.6 million.

Treasurer and CFO Jennifer Wagner says before the pandemic, the district tended to have roughly $9 million in salary savings each year, which happens naturally due to people entering and leaving the district.

“Since COVID, we’ve grown that vacancy savings,” Wagner said. “In fact, fiscal year ’22, we’re going to see about $24 million savings after the last payroll this week.”

Staff will be shrinking a bit next year, also reducing budget constraints. Most of the positions being cut are paraprofessionals and substitutes (super subs) created during the pandemic.

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Cincinnati Public Schools
Screenshot from Jun. 22, 2022 meeting
This slide shown during Wednesday's meeting notes the reduction in certain staffing areas between fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

“We added 163 super subs to the buildings to prevent viruses from carrying from building to building, and we were stuffing that down each year to get back to a normal level,” Wagner said. “And so, there was a reduction of 40 super subs.”

At least 85 health and safety paraprofessional positions have been eliminated as well due to changes in COVID-19 guidelines within the district. Board member Kareem Moffett raised concerns about the staffing cuts.

“We’re going to cut staff that potentially directly impact our kids and programming that I think, potentially impacts our kids," Moffet said. "And we haven’t established that that’s a community priority."

Wagner says the cut positions mostly dealt with previous COVID-19 guidelines, which required additional personnel to take temperatures and enforce social distancing. She says positions relating specifically to education are not being eliminated.

On Jun. 13, CPS’ school board approved a resolution giving the go ahead to submit a tax levy renewal. In May, the board said it's necessary to move a tax levy from a five-year cycle to a 10-year cycle during the upcoming election in November. If the levy were to stay on the five-year course, then voters would have to vote on three separate levies in a four-year period (2025, 2027, and 2028).

The $51.5 million "emergency fixed sum levy" was first enacted in 2008. It's up for a third renewal in November's election.