Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 2011

This past Monday night and Tuesday (16th and 17th) were very bad for me, personally, this week, and I did not attend the regular Board meeting Tuesday night.  

Highlights of the meeting shared with me today included:
  • recognizing the Superior rating received by our high school band at state competition (woo-hoo!)
  • thanking Parents' Club for their generous support throughout the year and for the successful Carnival
  • Dawn Solarek nominated Park Elementary in a playground makeover sweepstakes, and the school will receive $15,000 in Sports Authority gift cards
  • thanking Mary Ann Fehlen, who was recognized for her 30 years of service and retirement
  • thanking Dee Meller, also recognized for her service and retirement
  • on non-union employee contracts, approved a freeze on salaries and steps increases for one year
  • renewed our contract with Chartwell's for food services
  • approved the 5 year forecast as presented, with Treasurer Cheryl Swisher giving an explanation of what it reflects
  • approved the Personnel recommendations of the Superintendent
  • approved a 1 year lease agreement with the Village for use of the parks for sporting events
  • approved an easement with the Village for drainage work to be done by Crestwood School
Those were most of the items covered at the meeting.  As I learn more of what was decided that evening, I will share the information here.

And remember:  we digitally record all school board meetings so that even if you aren't able to be there during the meeting itself, you can hear it all later at home!  The link to our meeting records is available here.  Be sure to scroll down the page to the bottom, under 'Podcasts'.


Monday, May 9, 2011

No Crystal Ball Required

An old Sept. 2008 posting of mine entitled "Econ 101" included mention of a spreadsheet prepared by our treasurer, Cheryl Swisher, that showed how our district would be deficit spending by 2011 if the teachers' contract proposed at that time would be implemented.  

"Deficit spending" refers to spending more money than is taken in.  It does not reflect on what might still be sitting in savings.  However, just as in a personal family budget, if you spend more than you bring home, you end up dipping into your savings to pay bills.  A school district does the same.  When the first income tax levy in our district ended up collecting more than anticipated, we had - and continue to have - a carryover of funds.  This carryover of several million dollars has placed Swanton Local School District in far better shape than most of our neighboring districts, as the economy at large has taken a beating and states cut school funds in order to balance state budgets.

It's a difficult time, but not something that happened overnight.  This situation has been building in our country for several decades.  Others before us managed to push the problem ever forward . . . but now we are reaping what they have sown.  If we refuse to tighten belts and continue to push the problems forward, we are only kidding ourselves - and this joke ain't funny. 

How will our district weather the financial storms before us?  Those interested are encouraged to join us at the Board Office Tuesday evening, May 10th at 7 o'clock for a special meeting, where we will discuss our 5 year forecast.  Information from the state of Ohio will be included, as their cuts to school funding affect all districts across the state.

No crystal ball is required.  Common sense tells you that refusal to rein in spending will quickly deplete our carryover funds.  The Board will review the facts, as known to-date, and will have to make difficult financial decisions in the months ahead.  Fortunately we have a bit of a life-line in those carryover funds, that most of our neighboring districts do not have.  But that won't "save us" if we neglect our due diligence. 

I hope members of the community will attend this special meeting tomorrow night to hear first-hand what our district has before us. 

The Board need to govern based on facts, not emotions, and this meeting will give you an opportunity to hear those facts for yourself.  Please come, and support your school district!