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      74 jobs could be cut at Columbia Schools

      Teachers will not be cut back in the budget.

      Columbia Schools Superintendent Jim Ritter presented a preliminary budget proposal calling for the elimination of 74 positions.

      None of those positions are classroom teachers.

      Ritter shared his preliminary budget plan with school principals and staff members to help continue budget talks between administrators and school board members. Administrators are recommending the elimination of 51 positions in order to save the school district about $3 million.

      School officials are asking principals to identify another 23 positions saving an additional $1.4 million. Ritter wants to emphasis these are only preliminary budget suggestions and most of the job cuts will be as far away from the classroom as possible.

      Many of them are professional staff members that are serving as support to our teachers, math coaches, literacy coaches, for example," said Ritter. "We say we are trying to stay as far away from the classroom door as we can. I can tell you that many of these positions are right at that door and have been serving as support for our teachers.

      Over the next week and a half, school principals and staff will be busy organizing their budget recommendations. Ritter plans to give the recommendations from principals and staff to school administrators, who will present them to the board of education finance committee sometime in February.

      Ritter says the goal is to cut a total of $4.4 million from next year TMs school budget. State law requires that budget to be approved by June 30.

      Last year, Columbia School officials cut 81 positions throughout their district.

      If this year TMs preliminary recommendations go through, that would mean more than 150 jobs cut in the Columbia School District in the past two years.