The Parma city school board will meet tonight at 5:30 at Parma Senior High. As the district faces a two-year $15-million deficit
($7 million this year and $8 million next year) various and drastic cuts have been proposed to stave off a financial abyss leaders say is coming.
Last week's school board meeting was exceedingly contentious as parents and leaders talked about the hatchet-like solutions currently on the table. Those include: making Normandy and Valley Forge middle schools, leaving Parma Senior High as the lone high school; the closing of five additional schools; layoffs, including guidance counselors; getting rid of the STEM program completely; etc. (Already, almost all clubs have been cut.) The list goes on and on and community sentiment is in direct opposition to the school board's plan as it currently exists. A Parents for Parma Education Facebook group now has a couple thousand members.
And a reminder for those who might not know: The district includes not only Parma but Parma Heights and Seven Hills. In other words, many thousands of students and their future education hang in the balance. October 17 is the current deadline to put a plan into action, but mayors from all three cities are working on an extension. Beyond the current deficit picture lies a levy on the November ballot. If that fails, the deficit will likely balloon to $19 million.
Some context here: If $8 million of cuts are made the district would likely be fine the next two years. Also, $8 million is approximately 5-percent of the operating budget. The depth and scope of the cuts to address that 5 percent are exceedingly deep and probably unnecessary. Many districts have faced and are facing a similar scenario as expenses outstrip levy mileage. Parma seems to be the only one calling for a sky-is-falling solution when evidence suggests that's not the case and calling back ideas that have long since been discredited as unreasonable. For example, the idea of one high school was previously studied (back when J. Kevin Kelley was around and not in jail.) That study showed the idea didn't make much sense. Now it's being trotted back out.
Before today's meeting (again, 5:30 if you wish to attend), students at Normandy and Valley Forge plan on marching to Parma Senior High after school ends at 2:30
. Parents on the FB group say they'll be stationed on routes with water and to ensure student safety.
After the peaceful protest, the meeting will start, and things are likely to get chippy. We'll update you in the morning on the fallout from the gathering and let you know if any councilmen get tossed out of the building in the process, which definitely happened last week.