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CLEVELAND – Cleveland’s Board of Education Tuesday approved the plan put forth by school district CEO Eric Gordon that closes the $66 million hole on Tuesday.

The six-component plan includes reduction of force of approximately 500 teachers and 50 support staff members from all across the district. They will be based on seniority.

“Our strategy is to reduce the number of periods of music, art, physical education and library media at the K-8 level as a way of dampening the overall impact,” said Gordon.

“We did not increase class sizes; we heard that loud and clear from the community. We did not cut programs like pre-school, extra-curriculars and athletics. We did not close schools, we’re closing buildings instead and so we really designed this intentionally to not have the yo-yo effect we saw last year.”

This is the third April in a row where layoff notices went out to 500 or more teachers, but unlike the other years, with few exceptions, the layoffs are permanent.

“We really do need the organization to be about 500 teachers smaller,” said Gordon saying that they’re predicting the district to have around 1,900 fewer students next year.

The reduction of teachers at the K-8 level will result in the school day being shortened for those students by 50 minutes. Teachers days though would not be reduced. Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke told the board Tuesday night “it’s the students who will suffer.”

“No we may not see class sizes hovering around the 50 to 1 ratio but these layoffs will result in students being in schools less, either coming later or leaving earlier,” said Quolke, “Students missing out on valuable fine arts and physical education experiences and art, music media and physical education teachers shuffling between buildings.”

They are recommending the closing of six operation centers including the administration building which would be put up for auction to take advantage of its prime location near the new Medical Mart. They would be consolidating buildings instead of closing schools.

Other elements of the plan include an employee separation plan, which is an incentive for those who are at or close to retirement age, to separate from the district as a cost-saving method, other reductions and labor negotiations.

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