Reporting Dana Kozlov
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Severe cuts coming to schools in Gary, Ind. The Gary Community Schools district is getting ready to lay off 169 teachers.
As CBS 2′s Dana Kozlov reports, some fear the cuts could further threaten the future of public schools there.
Gary School Superintendent Myrtle Campbell said, “it’s very tough” to lay off nearly a quarter of the district’s teachers, but she said it had to be done.
“We have too many teachers,” she said.
Campbell said the loss of millions in state dollars, and declining enrollment are behind for the need to make deep cuts.
She predicted Gary’s schools will lose 600 to 700 students next year, about 7 percent of the current student population.
“That’s a departure from factual reality,” said Carlos Tolliver, president of the Gary Teachers Union.
Tolliver said, when he crunches the numbers, all the current cuts aren’t necessary.
“The reduction in personnel is not consistent with the decline in student enrollment,” he said.
Campbell said, “That’s interesting, because anytime we look at reductions in force, we work directly with the teachers union.”
Both sides agreed on one thing. Campbell and Tolliver believe the proliferation of for-profit charter and privately-run public schools – like Roosevelt High School – are undermining an already stressed public system in Gary, siphoning off students and tax dollars from traditional public schools.
At Roosevelt, for instance, more state dollars are being allocated for each projected student, than for actual public students at other schools, according to Campbell.
“It does take its toll on public education,” she said.
For perspective, there are now almost as many charter or privately-run schools in Gary as there are traditional public schools.
One immediate result of the teacher layoffs could be larger class sizes for all next year – up to 30 students per classroom.