District to request levy again
By Matt Echelberry
The Galion Board of Education decided to return to the voters with another tax levy this May. During its Jan. 24 special meeting, the Board approved a resolution to place a 9.4-mil levy on the May 7 ballot.
Treasurer Terri Day told Board members that there were three options to choose from: 1) all funds go into current expenses, 2) a split milage of 8 mils for current expenses and 1.4 mils for permanent improvements, or 3) a split milage of 7.4 mils for current expenses and 2 mils for permanent improvements.
Day noted that it is “imperative” for the district to pass a levy. She showed the Five Year Financial Forecast, which indicated deficits through 2015 and then recommended Option 2 for a 8/1.4 split milage levy. If voters pass it, 8 mils will bring in an estimated $1.49 million per year and 1.4 mils an estimated $223,068 per year. No collection would be made in 2013.
Board member George McElligott asked if it was possible to lower the milage from the 9.4 total.
“I know any amount is a lot for people to pay, but there have already been major cuts in the district and will look to continue making cuts,” Day responded. She noted that cuts will need to be made regardless of if the levy passes. The 9.4 milage would bring back what the 8-mil levy on the ballot last November would have brought in before the new property valuations.
Superintendent Kathy Jenney commented that revenue from the levy will allow the district to simply keep what it currently has, no programs would be added.
Board member Robert Zeisler felt it was important to set aside some funds for permanent improvements, and asked what the funds would be used for.
Jenney said money for the permanent improvement account MUST remain in that account and can be used only for specific purposes, such as continuing the One-to-One Technology Program, bus replacements as needed and improvements to facilities.
The Board passed Option 2 unanimously.
During community input Ken Bodkins, a member of Galion City Council and chair for the Parks and Recreation Committee, addressed the Board. He said he is having trouble facilitating use of the baseball fields for the “Babe Ruth League” this summer. The league was told last year the baseball field at Heise Park could not be used and he was not sure why.
Bodkins wanted to work something out with the school administration to allow use of the field with certain conditions, such as the league being responsible for cleaning the area after each game.
Jenney asked Bodkins to instruct a representative of the league to contact her. She said she was willing to work something out with the league.
In superintendent’s recommendations, Jenney requested accepting the retirement resignation of Nancy Widman, Intervention Specialist at Galion High School, effective March 1, 2013, and, consequently, the employment of Thomas C. Wiggins as Middle School Intervention Specialist, effective January 22, 2013 for the 2012–2013 school year.
She also asked for approval of Caden Lutz as assistant swimming coach and Krista McKibben to be paid $1800 for teaching two dual enrollment full-year classes (Advanced Math and Calculus) in cooperation with North Central State College.
Also on the agenda was approval of Lucinda Glew and Kyle Baughn as home instruction tutors for the 2012–2013 school year. According to Jenney, this brings the total number of tutors in the district to about 20, depending on student need. She asked for approval for training and payment of tutors for Grade 8 and 9 students in the AVID Program. The tutors are: Eric Neal, Maureen Neal, Patti Miller, Becky Gehrisch and Sheryl Bowen.
Lastly, Jenney recommended the employment of Rodney A. Dean as Middle School night custodian, effective February 11, 2013, and Stacy Cameron as a substitute secretary.
The Board approved all recommendations that evening.
The Board also approved two memorandums of understanding, one with the Galion Education Association and the other with the Ohio Association of Public Employees Local #370, effective Feb. 1. Both agreements reflected a revision to the district’s vision insurance plan; the district covers 90 percent of the premium while the member will pay 10 percent.
As discussed during the Jan. 10 Board meeting, Jenney presented members with details on purchasing a portable refueler station for diesel fuel. She said they are looking to TRM Support for the agreement and the total cost would be $24,500, including set up, monitoring of fuel price and delivery, and monthly billing for fuel costs.
Administration is considering its own fuel tank due to the increasing costs of paying full retail price for fuel, including sales tax, for the 18 buses currently in the district’s fleet. According to Jenney, in January of 2011, the district paid an average of $2.87 per gallon, and in January of 2012 it paid an average of $3.48 per gallon. With its own tank, they will pay an average of $3.28–3.50 per month.
The Board considered leasing the tank instead, but the cost could potentially exceed $24,500 for the life of the lease. Members agreed that purchasing a tank was the best option. Jenney will finalize details and bring back a formal agreement for the February meeting.
The two work session topics for the evening were goal setting and policy revisions. The first topic had a lengthy discussion, which was in a brainstorming phase. Among some of the Board’s continued goals, stadium improvements, safety planning and correcting an aging bus fleet were priorities.
In addition, the campus buildings use compressor units for the heating and cooling system. Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Joe Tucker reported that of the 240 units on the campus, four were down and need to be replaced. Cost is around $2,500 for one unit, which have a 7–10 year lifespan. Tucker was worried that many more units will need to be replaced in the coming years.
In terms of curriculum, college and career readiness remains a priority. McElligott asked Sandy Powell, director of curriculum, if the “career” aspect of the preparation could be given more focus, as college and technical schooling is a part of a student’s career path.
There are numerous other curriculum goals, including: continuing to provide electives and other options for students, digital coursework, class scheduling and technology infrastructure/instruction.
Board Vice President Jennifer Kuns recommended adding to curriculum goals the implementation of a student success center, as opposed to traditional study halls.
Board members also looked toward marketing goals, questioning whether money should be budgeted toward marketing and which means should be used, such as billboards. They also have an interest in updating the school website.
Treasurer Day added expressed interest in incorporating a blog of some sort to the site, as well as holding regular community meetings for parents and residents to get together with administrators to talk informally and ask questions.
The Board agreed that community outreach and engagement is a must, and hopes to remain accountable and transparent.
Two policy revisions were later reviewed. The first was campus wear guidelines, to make regulations slightly less strict. The second was for the Building Use Agreement, in order to streamline it.
Board member Brian Owens also suggested that the 13-page document be condensed to make it “more convenient and welcoming” for people to use the campus buildings.
Further discussion on the revisions will be held during the February meeting, which is Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m., in the Middle School computer lab.