Facing a $317,000 state funding cut because of the COVID-19 shutdown and other anticipated revenue shortfalls, the Niles Board of Education Thursday unanimously voted to institute a reduction in force by laying off a fiscal specialist and an administrator. The two layoffs combined will save the district nearly $119,000 in the next school year according to the board resolutions.

The vote to abolish the positions of Fiscal Specialist-Budgetary Clerk Carla Click and Education Specialist for Exceptional Children Douglas Dennis followed the recommendation of Superintendent AnnMarie Thigpen. In both cases, the resolutions emphasized district “financial conditions” as the reason for the job cuts and “unrelated” to the job performance of both individuals.

Financial problems appear to be compounding for the district that has been trying to get out from under state-declared fiscal emergency since February 2019. As part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s state-wide education funding cuts, Niles’ allocation has been cut by $317,000 and the situation could get even worse for Fiscal Year 21 according to Treasurer Rhonda Baldwin-Amorganos.

It could be as much as 10 percent (of the $17 million in state funding), worst-case scenario,” Baldwin-Amorganos told the board. “I know I sound all gloom and doom right now, but that’s what our situation is.”

As is the case statewide, there has been no decision on reopening schools in the fall or continuing with remote learning, all of which may lead to even more losses for a district that can least afford them. “We’re going to lose a lot more before it’s over,” Baldwin-Amorganos said. On a positive note, the district has learned that its stimulus funding of over $913,000 can be used to “maintain operations and continuity of services.” The treasurer said she does not expect the schools to receive the funds until sometime in fiscal year 2021.