Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Meeting

We had a busy evening last night at the Board Office.  At five o'clock, we held a special meeting that consisted of an executive session with our attorney on a pending legal matter.  After that had finished up, we were able to meet and greet the men and women who have joined the team at Swanton Local School District.

Over cake and punch, we were introduced to new teachers and staff who were able to attend last night's gathering, and during the first part of our regular meeting, Superintendent Paulette Baz introduced them by name and asked each person to stand and give a short statement about prior experience or relation to our district.  It is a loss for some of our surrounding districts that good teachers were RIFed due to budget problems, but a great gain for Swanton. 

As our regular meeting continued, we employed our new paperless system, BoardDocs.  For the audience, our agenda was made available on a large screen (as well as some printed copies for those with difficulty seeing).  We board members had the same agenda on laptops in front of us, and could also view associated documentation with a quick 'click' on the links provided.  It is a smooth system, and is also made available online through the district website.  Please take a look!

Mr. Ueberroth requested that meeting minutes be removed from the Consent Agenda as he had not been able to attend several meetings.  This was done, and then the agenda was passed as revised.  The Hearing of the Public was next, and no one indicated a desire to address the Board.

Items on the consent agenda were then passed, including  reports of the Treasurer, one Now and Then Purchase Order to cover an invoice from the NwOESC for Special Ed costs, and also the Personnel items from the Superintendent which were for the upcoming school year.

New business began with approval of the nine-page Permanent Appropriations for the 2010-11 school year, as required by law, which authorized the Treasurer to submit the amended certificate to the county auditor.  At this point, we then addressed the passage of the minutes for our July regular meeting and our August 3rd special meeting. 

Under the Superintendent's section for new business, we first learned that our district had been awarded a 21st Century grant with the NwOESC as the grant fiscal agent.  Mr. Rupp from the NwOESC (who had written on our behalf) was present to explain a few details of the process, and gave us each a brochure that spoke of the enrichment programs we will be able to provide to our kids before and after school, for those interested.  In conjunction with this, we will also provide a latch-key program for parents who desire that service.  The grant money is for the next five years, and totals $625,812.00.  Neighboring districts who have also participated in the 21st Century grant program are Archbold, Edgerton, Evergreen, Fayette, Liberty Center, Stryker, and Wauseon, among others.  Our program has been named "the DAWG Pound", and will officially begin on October 5th. 

Steve Gfell, high school principal, then presented information on the High School Flex Credit program that is a response to Senate Bill 311, which mandates that districts adopt a policy allowing a credit flex program by the 2010-11 school year.  Mr. Gfell explained how a flex credit program might work for a student and mentioned how it could allow inclusion of home-schooled and virtual academy students, credit recovery students, and charter school kids as well as parochial students and others.  This program has great positive potential for our kids, and interested parents of high school students should contact Mr. Gfell at the high school for more details.

Paulette then shared that a scant two weeks ago, the district received a notification letter from the Ohio School Facilities Commission - Classroom Facilities Assistance Program (OSFC-CFAP) that stated our district must notify them by August 31 whether or not we wish to pursue moving forward with a new building.  This is a multi-faceted process, with a myriad of steps and hoops through which a district must jump, but this fast-approaching deadline required us to begin the process.  This does NOT bind us to anything - it is not a decision that we WILL build anything, only that we will investigate the issue according to OSFC-CFAP guidelines so that IF (and that's a big IF) the community decides that it wants a new building, then we will have access to funding through the OSFC.  Cheryl Swisher indicated that our funding share with the high school was slightly over 60%, and would likely be the same with any other building the community might decide to build.  If the district goes through this process and obtains significant community input that indicates a new building is warranted, the district would then need a bond issue on the ballot to pay for it.  There was some discussion on enrollment requirements, and our existing buildings. 

Most of you remember the statements made years ago, that we were going to get "two for one" when the new high school was built.  Obviously, those statements were false, whether by error or intent, and we did NOT get two buildings out of that one bond issue.  People have been understandably confused over this issue, although the high level of anticipation has waned as the years have passed.  It is imperative that residents of our district make their voices heard on this matter!  As the process of gathering community input moves forward, don't be shy about what - if anything - you want done.  This will be a time of speaking up or allowing silence to speak for you, so please do not squander this opportunity to make your voices heard.

Part one of the process is to obtain an architect, who will work with the district AND the community on questions of usage, and other related matters.  An announcement in local trade journals will be placed.

The Board approved an agreement with the Wood Co. Juvenile Detention Education Program.

A few changes to the student handbook were presented, and approved.

Kris Oberheim shared that she had attended the most recent Village Council meeting to discuss a joint committee for the Swanton Recreation Program.  She was encouraged by the interaction at that meeting. 

Mona Dyke spoke about the Ohio Improvement Process moving forward, with a presentation to all staff planned for Aug. 23rd.  Attention is already being given to the three main goals of the program, and with all of us working together this has great potential to improve our curriculum approach and, thus, the education of our kids. 

During the portion of time set aside for Board comments, Mr. Ueberroth declared that he wanted a motion for a particular teacher to have a SmartBoard in her classroom.   Some discussion followed, as you can never be quite certain when the man is trying to be "funny" or not.  I prefer not to write about the discussion here, as it would be quite difficult to do so in a completely neutral manner - not that I have never shared my opinion on things in this blog, but I just think it would be better for you to hear what was said by listening to the recording of our meeting, and form your own opinion.  In addition, I will put information on this blog from the Ohio School Board Association that relates to the discussion.

We then went into executive session for the purpose of the superintendent's evaluation.  Once that portion of our meeting was complete, we came out and adjourned.  It was 10 o'clock.

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