Special needs, wrestling honors and finances at Galion school board

Matt Echelberry

February 24, 2014

Before the Galion Board of Education got down to business on Feb. 20, it heard from Missie Strawser, the parent of an autistic student. She informed school officials that a new group called Tigers for Special Needs has been formed to raise money for the staff and programming of special needs students.

On Saturday, March 1, the group is hosting a fund raiser at Varsity Grille. Beginning at 7 p.m., there will be live music, an auction, raffles and a 50/50 drawing. All of the proceeds will benefit special needs students at the Galion Primary and Intermediate buildings.

“The staff at the Primary School does an excellent job…I’m so grateful to the district,” Strawser commented. She suggested that Galion City Schools market what it does for special needs students and their families, because she talks to families from other districts without a strong special needs program who have been seeking another district.

The 2014 varsity wrestling team was recognized that evening. The team was crowned North Central Conference champions, and wrestlers Nicholas Flowers, Johnathan Harris and Justin Kleinknecht were set to compete in a tournament the following day.

In regular business, Treasurer Terri Day presented the financial report for January. The total balance was $3,323,780, which includes the depository accounts ($733,053), investment accounts ($2,708,869) and a scholarship fund ($200,000), minus outstanding checks and service charges.

Day pointed out that open enrollment continues to be a concern. Last month the district received $37,000 in open enrollment revenue while it paid out $81,000. After $1,235,949 in total expenditures for the month, revenue was $252,623 under expenditures.

In other financial matters, the Board approved refunding additional School Improvement Bonds. Last year the district did this with other bonds, saving the taxpayers 16 percent of what was owed. With this additional refinancing, Day explained it will occur when the rates are best but it may only reflect a savings of 3 percent for tax payers.

Board President Dennis Long pointed out the payback schedule is skewed from year to year. The treasurer agreed to ask the bond counsel to even out the schedule if possible.

A transfer of $51,001 in casino revenue was approved to be placed in the Permanent Improvement Fund. A new fund was created for Northwest District athletic tournaments, as mandated by the Auditor of State.

A final reading for the 2014-2015 school calendar was held that evening. Aug. 26 will be the first day and May 29 will be the last. The Board also set the date of 2015 senior graduation for Friday, June 5, which is one week after the last day of school.

Superintendent Mark Stefanik reminded Board members that the calendar system changes from days to hours beginning next year. Galion will have an excess of 20 additional days over the state minimum built into the calendar

The superintendent also provided an update on the calamity day situation the district faces this year. It has used 15 days to date and three Blizzard Bags (the maximum allowable), meaning there are five makeup days (two for seniors).

However, the State Senate and House of Representatives each have a proposal for aiding Ohio schools. Both bodies are considering adding at least two calamity days to the allowable count. For now, Galion and other schools in the state are waiting to see what happens.

Stefanik announced there will be a community meeting on Feb. 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the Galion Middle School Library. He will share information about the district and wants feedback on some general topics. A question-and-answer portion will follow.

District goals for 2014 were discussed briefly. They include implementing the new learning standards for grades K-12 by August, enhancing academic programs and evaluating the One-to-One Technology Program. The goals will be posted on the school website later this week for the community to review.

Dr. Sandy Powell, director of curriculum, discussed the semester course conversion. Beginning next year for five or six freshman/sophomore classes, a half credit will be offered each semester even though those classes run for a full year. According to Powell, this will help transfer students and any students who need credit recovery.

The board accepted retirement resignations from Alice Fox, high school French teacher, and Juanita Nungesser, transportation secretary, both effective at the end of the school year.

Rodney Dean was approved as Middle School head custodian and Freddy Beachy was approved as Middle School night custodian. Because these are internal promotions, it creates an opening for a night custodian at the Primary building.

The following agreements were approved: Annual membership to the Metropolitan Education Center in the amount of $857, to save money on food service costs; annual membership with Ohio School Boards Association in the amount of $5,154; an agreement with EDGE Document Solutions for a required upgrade to accounting software in the amount of $3,039; and an annual maintenance agreement with Tyler Technologies in the amount of $1,986.

The Board also approved a contract with Loudonville-Perrysville Schools for Galion resident students who are handicapped with disabilities to attend the Tri-State Youth Academy, and a contract with a parent for transporting a student to and from Cardington Schools.

The Board then entered executive session to consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee. No further action was to be taken.