Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Special Meeting and 5 yr. Forecast

Last night was a special meeting of the school board.  We had five items on our agenda for the evening.  After the initial preliminaries of opening the meeting, roll call, etc., our first item of consideration was personnel recommendations by the Superintendent.  One was a resignation; the others were all related to the Swanton Rec program and included payments for three positions:  $10/hr as needed for a Recreation Coordinator 2010-11; $1,200 stipend for a 2011 Baseball Director; and $700 for a 2010-11 Basketball Cheerleading Director.  

A short discussion was held before a motion was made.  I asked Kris Oberheim, fellow board member, what progress was being made by Swanton Recreation toward becoming its own entity, and thus be removed from under the school district umbrella?  She said that meetings with the Village, the Sylvania Rec group and the Anthony Wayne group were scheduled to discuss options, but that no change was imminent.  

I continue to be concerned that the original intent and plan for the Swanton Recreation program is not moving forward.  That intent and plan was to assist with a transition for the new program to become self-funded and out from the control of the school district.  While no new tax dollars are being collected and spent on rec programs, and we no longer have a levy undercutting our education funding from the state of Ohio, we continue to have people spending their time administering this program that could be spent, instead, on things related to the education we provide to our kids.  

Maybe I am just incredibly naive here, but I honestly believe that we have people in our district who are willing and able to volunteer their time for the rec programs.  Why do we continue to pay people?  Hopefully our rec personnel will have good discussions with Sylvania (whose successful rec program is funded by a levy) and Anthony Wayne (whose successful rec program does NOT use tax dollars) and will do what it takes to move the Swanton Recreation program away from the school district so that we can focus on education.

Mrs. Floyd and Middle School principal Mr. Haselman gave a presentation on the proposed 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C.  Their informational meeting was well attended, and they asked the board to approve moving forward with plans for this trip, which is scheduled for next Spring.  Materials were passed out to board members, that gave information on trip specifics as well as funding options available to the kids.  As Mr. Ueberroth mentioned, it is important to us that every child be able to attend this field trip.  With the planned fund raisers and other suggestions, no child should have to be left behind because of finances.  Mrs. Floyd reminded everyone that it would take effort by each 8th grade student to reach their trip funding total, but as long as they got busy and didn't wait until the last minute, it would work out fine.  The Board approved the 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C.

Back in the dark ages, when I was still in school, it was the Seniors in high school who had opportunities to take amazing field trips like this.  What a blessing for our kids today that they have these options available to them!

A short presentation from the F.A.C.T. was given by Mr. Bill Pilliod.  Members of this group are Mr. Pilliod, Larry Herrick, Steve Trudel, Rick Lederman, and Dick Perkins.  During their organizational meeting this past August, FACT examined our 5 yr forecast from May 2010, and discussed district deficit spending beginning in 2011 and our negative fund balance by 2015.  They reviewed per pupil expenditures of our district as well as those of other area districts, and noted our 18% increase over the past 3 years.  They also adopted a mission statement: "Provide our students with the highest quality education at the lowest cost to the taxpayers of the School District." and suggested that the Board adopt a similar mission statement.

Sounds good to me.

Following Mr. Pilliod's presentation, we then moved on to our discussion of the updated 5 yr. forecast which is required to be filed with the state by the end of October.  Treasurer Cheryl Swisher went over the forecast line by line, and our audience was able to follow along by watching the large screen that held the various spreadsheets and formulas involved in the forecast.  Mrs. Swisher reminded everyone that many pieces of this forecast are her "best guess", given the uncertainty of state funding - especially with a gubernatorial election looming on the horizon. 

The good news is that property tax revenues have been coming in better than had been projected.  But with unemployment numbers increasing, our income tax revenue is suffering.  

Although no one mentioned it last night, we also have union negotiations coming up in a few short months.  In this forecast, Mrs. Swisher has included a 1% wage increase for the next five years.  Only time will tell if the district is able to keep this large expense under control.

There was general discussion about various pieces of the forecast, and Mrs. Swisher reminded the Board that we will vote on it at our next regular meeting, scheduled for next Tuesday evening, Oct. 19th.  The 5 yr. forecast must be submitted to the state of Ohio no later than October 30th, although we may revise it at any time it is deemed appropriate, and the state will accept those revisions.

Last on our agenda was an executive session for Employee Employment.  Following that, we were adjourned just before 9 o'clock.

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