Lima school district officials are preparing for continued hard times the best way they can. They’re involving everyone who has an interest, getting as much input as possible and making the process an open one.
The district has to cut $3.8 million from its $46.1 million budget. That’s about one in every 12 dollars. The district has a tentative plan that involves a dramatic restructuring, including closing buildings and moving programs. Employee buyouts and staff cuts are also planned.
Change is never easy. But it is necessary. The district, like all governments in Ohio, is facing a budget shortfall and uncertainty about state funding. Rather than waiting until the last minute after learning what cuts the state will make, district officials are taking a more active approach.
They also are looking for community feedback. The district will hold a community forum at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Lima Senior High School to lay out the plans. The district did the same thing when it received Ohio School Facilities Commission money for its $100 million-plus building and renovation project a decade ago.
A continuing weak economy has caught up to the state, forcing districts to scale back. Still, bringing in the community makes the most sense. More people feel they are a part of the changes, and the community takes some ownership in the process. District officials are waiting until they know what will happen with state money before talking about more operating money, but they are doing themselves a long-term favor by keeping the community feeling involved.
The Lima district is looking at closing three buildings as part of the restructuring, and it will move programs and staff to other locations. The three small schools within Lima Senior High School will remain.
Things will remain tough for schools and other local governments. Looming state cuts might even make times harder. The Lima district is doing the right thing by preparing itself for more cuts. Involving as much of the community as is willing to participate is also smart.