Omaha Public Schools board cuts $29 million from budget
16 June 2018
Last week the Omaha Public Schools (OPS) board voted to implement $29.53 million in budget cuts resulting in the elimination of 180 jobs, the freezing of current employee’s pay and halting the planned purchase of new text books for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. The cuts are being made on the recommendation of the district’s budget advisory committee, which consists of union leaders, teachers, administrators and community members.
The slashing of the budget for the largest school district in Nebraska will result in the elimination of positions in the central office, bus drivers, student support liaisons, accountants and IT professionals. Additionally, the district will implement a salary freeze on current staff, excluding teachers.
Students will be affected by the cancellation of a planned $7 million textbook adoption and cuts to the budget for class field trips and classroom supplies in elementary and secondary schools. According to the findings of a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics, 94 percent of teachers across the US are already forced to spend hundreds of dollars of their own money on school supplies to cover budget shortfalls.
OPS is using a required $18.7 million payment to the pension fund as political cover for the cuts. In January the budget advisory committee held its first meeting to begin prioritizing cuts in anticipation of decreased state aid and the required pension payment.
Nevertheless, in early March the teachers union, the Omaha Education Association (OEA), pushed through a concessions contract that did not make any effort to protect teachers and staff from the expected budgetary shortfall. One month after the contract was ratified,…