Lack of add'l state funding leaves schools struggling
By Randa Wagner
Education is changing for Ohio Schools, thanks to House Bill 555 and Governor Kasich’s proposed budget for 2013. The new standards for students and teachers has been a major topic of discussion at Morrow County School board meetings, and Northmor’s Thursday evening meeting was no exception.
Superintendent Dr. Brent Winand did not mince words expressing his viewpoint on the lack of additional funding and new guidelines for the next school year.
“The Northmor School District stands to get zero dollars in terms of any increase and, over time, will probably decline in funding,” he said. “That’s true of all Morrow County Schools. It’s a little disappointing. Olentangy Schools gets a 331% increase, Ontario Schools gets a 55% increase, Dublin City Schools gets a 25% increase, and Northmor Schools — along with the 12 Appalachian area school districts — receive zero percent. If that’s the solution to DeRolf (equity & adequacy of school funding), then his interpretation is tremendously different than what mine or 613 other baffled superintendents in the State of Ohio are. I’d like to be able to propose to you the governor’s formula to arrive at his funding – I have no clue. I can’t figure it out.”
He said he hopes the representatives in the legislature show some common sense and encourages everyone to contact them.
“The end result is going to be, even for schools like Northmor that have been fiscally conservative forever and haven’t had to ask for additional funding, if the state continues to do this, we’ll have no choice,” Winand said, alluding to a future levy. “Costs go up and revenue goes down – we can’t do that forever. We’re not in that boat yet, but if this proposal for educational funding stays in place without changes, it will drive us and other school districts to the ballot.’
He acknowledged the governor’s proposed budget is not necessarily the final budget that is approved by the Ohio House and Senate.
When Northmor Junior High School Principal Dennis Ervin reported on strides the staff was taking to meet the demands of the new teacher evaluation standards set by the state, Winand was equally vocal.
“I think it’s too rapid,” Winand maintained. “I don’t think it can be adequately approached in the timeline that’s proposed and there’s no funding to support it. If there was funding to support it, maybe we could buy into it a little better.”
“In my entire career, there have never been as many sweeping changes in education as there is right now,” Ervin stated. “At first, when we learned what was going to change, we were overwhelmed. Now a lot of things we’re doing are really good things and [the staff] is really more fascinated with and looking forward to the changes.”
Ervin said it’s a huge undertaking but something he thinks will be good in the long run. He added the staff is also trying to ‘come to grips’ with the new Ohio Teacher Evaluation System which will be put into place next year. Ervin said the staff wants to understand what they need to do to perform well on the evaluation.
“The teachers are busy right now trying to build a thorough understand of the new common core curriculum,” Ervin said. “They’re going to use that information to build something new we call “Student Learning Objectives” for their courses. It is something that we use data to define learning targets for each of the students in their classes. They will collect data at the beginning of the school year and make projections about how much knowledge those kids will gain over the course of the year, then do testing at the end of the year to determine if they reached their targets.”
Regarding other matters at the middel school, Ervin reported the Northmor District Spelling Bee would take place Tuesday, February 26 at 9:30 a.m. March 11 – 15 is OGT Week in the junior high and high school. Fifth graders are going to Mohican School March 18 – 22. Sixth and seventh graders are currently selecting their class requests for next year. Academic assessment testing is April 23 – 30.
The board approved an amended certification of estimated resources for 2013 offered by Treasurer Tina Gabler. Gabler said she looks over the budget midway through the year and updates the numbers when necessary; in this case, several grants came in later in the year. Gabler must certify incoming revenue with the county auditor’s office. She will be updating the five year forecast this Spring for submission to the state.
Also approved were amended permanent appropriations for 2013, which (was affected by the additional revenue and) certifies projected spending for the fiscal year.
The board approved the 2013–2014 School Year Calendar, which includes additional delayed starts for professional development sessions for staff.
“We’re experiencing tremendous change, mandated by the state,” Supt. Dr. Brent Winand said. “The only way to deal with that is through professional development for the staff.”
Since July, the board has been discussing having some of the surrounding wooded area ‘timbered.’ An area resident has proposed a contract to fell trees and sell the wood. The proposed cost to the board is ten percent of the total sale of the wood. Winand suggested adding to the contract a clause reserving the right to refuse all bids and to set a window of time to have the job completed.
Board member Dan Sipes said due to the possible presence of the Emerald Ash Borer, there could be some restrictions as to when wood can be moved. Winand said he would check into that possibility, adding that because of sports schedules, the work probably cannot be performed this Spring or next Fall. Board President Carlyle Smith suggested the work be wrapped up six months after a bid is accepted. For now, the board approved the proposed contract with the suggested amendments.
Under new business, the board:
- agreed to attend the Central Region of the Ohio School Boards Association Meeting on March 19, 2013 to honor Dan Sipe for 20 years of board service and Jeff Whisler for 10 years of Board service.
- approve the North Central Ohio Computer Cooperative (NCOCC) Internet Service Provider Contract for the period of time from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014 in the amount of $40,279.60.
- approve the North Central Ohio Computer Cooperative (NCOCC) Telephone Contract for the period of time from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014 in the amount of $7,100.00
- accepted the Hannah Hatfield donation of equipment, books, instruction cards and cassettes to the Northmor Multiple Disabilities Class. It is estimated the total donation value to be approximately $98.00.
- joined the Ohio School Boards Association for the 2013–2014 school year. The total contract amount is $4,051.00.
Under employment, the board: accepted the letter of resignation from Amber Wheeler for the position of Family and Consumer Science Instructor (effective with the end of the 2012–2013 school year); employed for the 2012 — 2013 school year: Ashley Lusetti as a teacher in the After School Assistance Program funded through the 21st Century Grant, three hours per day; Mary Bishop as a full time double route bus driver from February 25, 2013 through the end of the 2012–2013 school year; Jeff Hubschman as a Certified Suburban Driver; Mary Ann Stiver as a Certified Suburban Driver; Rich Roach as the Junior Varsity Softball Coach; Jessie Massey as the Junior High Softball Coach; recognize Jerry West as a Volunteer Assistant Softball Coach; employ David Morgan as an Assistant Track Coach; Kevin Ruhl as a Junior High Track Coach; Lauren Rausch as a Junior High Track Coach; Brandon Strain as a Junior High Track Coach; recognize Chris Kaschube as a Volunteer Assistant Baseball Coach, Todd Wiseman as a Volunteer Assistant Baseball Coach, Russ Montgomery as a Volunteer Assistant Baseball Coach, and Mark Wiseman as a Volunteer Assistant Baseball Coach; employ Jeremiah Howe as the Junior High Baseball Coach; and Brendan Gwirtz as the Junior Varsity Baseball Coach.
All contracts are pending the completion of all employment requirements.
The board went into executive session to discuss details relevant to the security arrangement for the building and emergency response protocols. No further business was conducted.
The next Northmor Board of Education Meeting will be on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. in the Northmor Board of Education meeting Room.