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Columbus City Schools using $870k to pay off “secret” radio debt

Columbus City Schools using $870k to pay off “secret” radio debt

614now Staff

According to the current President of the Board of Education for Columbus City Schools Gary Baker, the state shortchanged the school district by almost $100 million a year in state financial aid. And just last month, dozens of Columbus City School teachers took the day off from school to march for better pay, smaller classroom sizes, and better working conditions.

However, it’s been announced that the Columbus Board of Education will use $870,000 of its general education fund—local and state money earmarked for teaching students—to pay the debt of local National Public Radio affiliate WCBE.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the $870,000 debt run up by WCBE has been kept secret by now. A background memo obtained by The Dispatch reveals Scott Varner, Executive Director of Strategic Communications and Public Relations at Columbus City Schools, communicating to Superintendent Talisa Dixon that the school board “may be asked again to supplement the station’s budget through the general fund.”

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Baker told The Dispatch following the 7-0 “consent agenda” omnibus vote that the administration recommended that Columbus City Schools covers the debt of WCBE using its general education fund. He also added that he is “pleased” the district is able to help fund WCBE, “a valuable community service.”

Back in 1970, WCBE established itself as an “educational tool of the Columbus City Schools,” according to the station’s website. Today, “WCBE is an NPR affiliate, broadcasting twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.”

The station is well known for its annual spring fundraiser (that was alarmingly unfruitful last year) that funds its $1.2 to $1.3 million budget. However, The Dispatch reports that district officials only recently learn that NPR had been accepting payments from WCBE General Manager Dan Mushalko.

Mushalko is on paid suspension pending the outcome of an internal audit. Read more at The Dispatch.

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