Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 2011 Regular Meeting

The Swanton Board of Education held its regular meeting on Tuesday evening, April 19th.  Two items from the agenda were moved from their original position to the end of the meeting and the agenda was thus approved as amended.  

We were notified of the annual Retirement Dinner to be held at the Swanton Sports Center, on May 25th.  Cocktail hour is at 4 p.m. with dinner to be served at 5 o'clock.

Treasurer Cheryl Swisher asked that we schedule a special meeting to discuss the revised 5 year forecast.  We set the date for May 10th at 7 p.m.  She gave us a one-page handout of information related to the state budget released March 15, 2011 - and the funding cuts are sobering.  Based on all of the information at her disposal to date, our district could lose over $2.2 million - not including homestead and rollback loss, transportation loss, or any offset from the funding model.  Cheryl will have more detailed information ready for us at the special meeting on May 10th, and I urge our district residents to attend to hear, first-hand, of what we will face.

A presentation was given on Power School, which would replace a couple of other data capturing systems (ESIS and Pinnacle) and thus would not cost the district additional money.  This electronic tool has already been implemented by the Evergreen district, and would make data input and retrieval easier on teachers, staff, and parents.  Student attendance and grades would be accessible by parents and students online.  It would be hosted on the NwOCA servers. 

A marketing presentation was also given that evening, which shared the results of a recent survey of staff, students, and others of the Swanton school district.  Many good points were made, as we look to incorporate ideas for bolstering our image in the community.  As an example, a community calendar that would include all scheduled events for the entire area (school district, SACC, Village of Swanton, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) could be a valuable tool for our residents.  This idea and several others deserve thoughtful attention as part of the #1 goal of our OIP plan.

The Board was asked by our Band Director to please contribute $3,800 toward replacing band raincoats.  The raincoats currently being used are around 25 years old!!  We've certainly gotten our money's worth out of them, I would say - it's time to replace those old, moldy things.  Pam Kaz had 2 of the coats with her to show everyone - yuck!!  The Board approved the expenditure of funds to replace them.

High School Principal Steve Gfell proposed an update to the grading policy in his building.  He explained its purpose and methodology.  We had a short discussion on the matter, and the Board approved the change.

During a discussion on the Swanton Recreation program, board member Michelle Tyson presented a list of physical items and estimated associated costs.  The items themselves appear to belong under the Village auspices, and not Swanton Rec.  The Rec Committee will do further research and give the Board more information at our next meeting.

The Village of Swanton has proposed to extend our lease with them for use of village parks' facilities for one year.  They also propose that we grant them an easement by Crestwood School for a drainage project.  Comments included the need to "drain Lake Crestwood" - where, apparently, several long-time residents used to ice skate as children!  Obviously the drainage problem has a long history.

We held one executive session at the end of the evening.  Upon our return, we approved Personnel recommendations by the Superintendent and tabled action on a proposed job description. 

We adjourned around 10:30. 

Remember:  you can listen in on any board meeting by going to the district website, here.  Scroll down the page to "Podcasts".   All of our meetings are digitally recorded in mp3 format, and placed online for use by our residents.  If you ever have a question, don't hesitate to contact any board member, our district Treasurer, Superintendent, or principal.  We are here to serve!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Pledge is Alive and Well in Swanton!

Recently I was asked by several folks whether or not Swanton schools still had students recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day.  Some were district residents - others were in areas outside of Swanton who had been learning of districts around the nation minimizing and even ignoring the Pledge in the ever-widening push toward global ideology. 

Given the level of concern, a quick email was sent to each building principal that asked the question. 

I am proud to report that ALL of our schools in the Swanton Local School District do, in fact, recite the Pledge of Allegiance each and every day that school is in session.

It's always great to share positive news!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

March 2011 Meeting

We actually had 2 meetings in March.  One was a special meeting, where we had to approve an amended certificate and appropriation resolution (which reflected a net decrease of funds in the amount of $25,729.41) along with a transfer of funds to athletics.  We also discussed the school calendar for 2011-12, and then held an executive session to discuss upcoming negotiations, as well as pieces of the superintendent's evaluation.

At our regular meeting on March 15, we made a minor adjustment to the agenda before proceeding with the evening's business. 

We had several people to recognize with commendations that night!  There were students who had placed in the Regional Accounting contest, and two band students who had participated in the Toledo Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.  Good job!!

We also made special mention of Jerry Smith and Jerry Bowser for their facelift of the high school cafeteria.  It looks great!

There were two significant items related to our wrestlers that were honored as well.  Of course, those young men who had gone to state were congratulated, and the whole district was still sharing in the glow of Mimmo Lytle winning the state championship in his weight category.  In addition, we took time to thank the two upstanding citizens of our community, Don and Derek Johnson, who had discovered a large amount of cash and turned it in - much to the relief of the happy owner.  Our extra-curricular programs have life lessons to teach that simply cannot be covered in a regular classroom - but the embracing by individuals of those lessons is the proof in the proverbial pudding.  We are all SO proud of these honest young men who did the right thing simply because it was the right thing.  What a simple concept - and yet, how rare in our world today.

We received a status report on the Middle School boiler heating system by Mr. Will Oswald, and were grateful to learn that the machine is operating at a high efficiency despite its age.  There remains tweaking to be done to all of our buildings' systems so that operating costs are kept to a minimum. 

In response to a recent federal mandate, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, our food service director gave a report on its impact on our school. 

Meeting minutes and financial items of the treasurer were approved.   The tax rate information from the counties had been received, which required us to approve it, per the Ohio Revised Code.  (We don't really have a "say" in where the rates are set, but we are required to approve it.)

Under new business from the superintendent, we approved personnel recommendations as presented.  In response to another mandate (this one under H.B.1), we adopted a formal resolution to teach something called "financial literacy and career readiness" to 7th and 8th grade students. The two-page document includes reference to teacher training and: "teaching students to become financially literate, including the ability to read, analyze, manage, and communicate about the personal financial conditions that affect material well-being. . . "        I'm not kidding.  Most of you reading this are around my age - I'll bet you thought kids were already getting this stuff, just like we did all those years ago.  Surprise.  Surprise.  Between all of the other mandates handed down from The Government, the basics of how to establish and maintain a workable personal budget have been edged out and now require yet another mandate to be reinstituted.  If you had any doubts that allowing The Government to meddle in education might be a bad idea, this should give you an answer.

We also approved the 2011-12 school calendar.

Building reports from the respective administrators had been provided ahead of time, which is very much appreciated.  From these reports, the Board is able to see what each building has been working on over the past month, and any upcoming projects.

Next on the agenda was a discussion on the Swanton Recreation program.  Kris Oberheim, as a representative of the rec committee, asked if the Board would be willing to allow them to use Swanton Rec funds to pay for materials required to repair the stairs at the village park concession stand.  The Village would then provide the labor.  As our teams store equipment upstairs during their season, the rec committee believed it to be a valid request.  I disagreed, stating that the Village was responsible for the physical upkeep of their facilities - not us.  The tax money we had for Swanton Rec was for the programs themselves and equipment.  The dollar amount requested was not large - I disagreed on principle.  The vote on this item was thus 4-1.  The next day, a Village council member saw me and thanked me for the Board agreeing to pay for these materials.  I just grinned and said, "Don't thank me - I voted against it!"

Other committee reports were short, and we then went into executive session to discuss the superintendent's evaluation and employee employment.   When we came out from executive session, our meeting was adjourned.