ELYRIA — Declining enrollment rates and overstaffing are not just a Lorain issue. Other districts, including Elyria, have been dealing with the same issues for years.
“Elyria has been gradually eliminating, because of declining enrollment, positions mostly through attrition,” said Nancy Warzecha, president of the Elyria Education Association. “As teachers retire, their position may not be filled, or as temporary teachers leave they might not be replaced.”
Elyria currently has 601 certified staff members, about 550 of whom are teachers, but the certified staff also includes support personnel including counselors and therapists, according to school officials.
The district had 7,546 students at the end of the 2006-07 school year. Superintendent Paul Rigda estimated a student-teacher ratio of nearly 14-to-1.
Both the number of teachers and students have declined in the past few years. In the 2004-05 school year, the district had 673 staff members for 7,839 students.
Warzecha declined to comment on jobs cuts announced in Lorain on Thursday but was complimentary of the Elyria school board and administration for constantly working with the union and keeping an open conversation going about enrollment rates.
“I have appreciated the fact that our administrators have been very open and honest about the needs and the enrollment decline,” Warzecha said. “Our teachers are aware of our declining enrollment and how closely the board and the administration are watching it.”
Warzecha and her fellow teachers in Elyria plan to keep a close eye on the situation in Lorain. And Rigda said he is very concerned and sympathetic to the teachers and administration in Lorain.
“I can’t even imagine making a cut like that. I can’t even imagine how it’s possible,” Rigda said. “We would not be able to keep the schools that we have open if we lost 240 teachers. If you were to suggest that we reduce even 100, I don’t know that we could stay open.”
The Elyria schools went through an extensive reorganization project during the summer of 2005 when staffing rates dropped from 673 certified staff members to 607, Rigda said.
“There was major reorganization for us to do that in 2005, and it took a tremendous amount of time and effort to make that happen and that’s a fraction of what they are talking about (in Lorain),” Rigda said. “This is a very serious situation they are facing, and we are all very interested and watching to see what happens. I can’t even imagine the turmoil this must be creating within the ranks.”
Contact Joe Medici at 329-7152 or firstname.lastname@example.org.