Millcreek West Unity School Board Bids Dr. Smith Farewell

Superintendent Dr. Bob Smith handed over the reins of the job to Larry Long at the July 15 meeting of the Millcreek-West Unity School Board. Long had spent this past year as interim high school principal and had been approved at an earlier meeting as the district’s new superintendent.

In other business, the board heard from Legislative Liaison Sarah Carothers who had attended a regional meeting. She noted that overall, the state’s education budget is better, but is still over $607 million below what had been allotted to schools in the last two years.

The board approved the following items in the consent agenda:

  1. Approved the minutes from the June 2013 Board of Education Meeting.
  2. Approved the Financial Statements and Investments for June 2013.
  3. Approved 10 days of extended leave time for Steve Riley at $300 per day for the 2013-2014 school year.
  4. Approved sick leave for Bill Williams retro to 7/12/13 through 8/5/2013.
  5. Approved 2013-2014 membership with the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy.
  6. Approved the 2013-2014 Nursing Services contract with the Williams County Health Department – $15,000.
  7. Approved the resignation of Kylee Bostelman – Art K-12 and Varsity Cheerleading Coach.
  8. Approved the Athletic Policy Handbook.
  9. Approved the adjustment for Samuel Moran to 3 years’ experience for Marching and Pep Band Director Supplemental Contract
  10. Approved membership with the West Unity Chamber of Commerce for 2013 at $40.00
  11. Approved agreements with parents transporting their child to school round trip for 2013-2014 school year, at $10 per day; IRS mileage rate per mile. Desiree Baker transporting Keila Brandenburg; Mark and Leslie Wagner transporting Jakob Wagner.
  12. Approved new hire Desiree Arps for K-12 art.
  13. Approved an agreement with the Juvenile Detention Center at $35 per student per day. This is an agreement that is entered into annually.

There was no elementary school report from Principal Laura Springer as she was not present. Larry Long, in his report as high school principal said that the transition as Steve Riley prepares to take the helm as high school principal while Long is getting ready to take over as superintendent, is going smoothly. Staff hiring for grades K – 12 is complete.

The board voted to approve a resolution of necessity declaring it necessary to place a levy on the November ballot for the exclusive purpose of funding school security. A levy for nine-tenths of a mill will be put on the ballot in order that the school can continue to have security personnel on school grounds to protect students from serious threats. The district is hoping to receive funding from the state to keep the security officer on staff, and if they get the funding, the levy will be pulled. If there is a levy on the ballot and it passes, if it any time state funding of the position is received, the levy will be pulled at that time. A special board meeting will be held at a later date in order to vote on a resolution to proceed with putting the levy on the ballot.

In the financial report for the school, Dr. Smith distributed a folder containing financial information for the past three years. He noted that the carry-over from the prior school year was under $87,000 and that this is a drastic drop from the prior two years when the carry-over from 2010-2011 which began with a carry-over of $1,109,239 and ended with $228,679, and the carry-over from the 2011-2012 school year was $237,280. This is due to cuts in the amount of money received from the state that has affected most schools in the area. Smith said that there would have been no carry over had it not been for the efforts of the staff in cutting costs to the minimum. Income for the district has dropped from $6,153,341 to $5,943,654 or down by $209,687 or by 3.5% per year while expenditures have remained flat. There has been an average drop of 2% in income from the state for the school per year. This puts a higher burden on taxpayers in school districts as local support needs to increase to make up the difference.

He also discussed how charter schools affect public schools’ budgets as districts lose money for each student that attends a charter school instead. He read a letter that a representative from the Ohio Equity and Adequacy board had shared. The letter was written by former District 43 state representative Stephen Dyer had written. In it, he discussed the fact that the Ohio General Assembly had cut funding for schools and that school districts are receiving $515 million less than they had received three years ago. He went on to explain that funding to public schools was being affected by charter schools. The writer explained that 70% of charter schools were given an F rating by the state’s report card, and that most students leaving a district would be entering a charter school with a lower grade than the district they had left. Of particular note is that although “the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled four times that the state’s duty is to reduce the need for property taxes to pay for schools…this budget will continue to increase the need. Since 2011, a record $1.3 billion in new levy money to fund operations have been before Ohio voters as property taxpayers continue to foot the bill for our legislators’ constitutional failure.” Dr. Smith added that “public schools are desperately under attack.”

In his closing words to the board, Smith said that he “thoroughly enjoyed my term here as superintendent.” He shared his confidence in Mr. Larry Long’s ability to take over the position.

Members of the board offered their thanks to Dr. Smith. Board member Ron Baker thanked Smith for his dedication to the district and said, “We’re a better district for it.” Roger Detwiler and Rob Maneval also thanked Smith for his service. Brian Weiland added that during the initial hiring interview, the intention had been for Smith to serve as an interim superintendent for three to four months, but he provided leadership for three years. Baker continued to praise Smith by saying that he helped the district to survive those next three years, and that the district could have gone downhill. With Smith’s guidance, they were able to thrive and were even able to complete some needed projects.

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned. The next regular meeting of the Millcreek-West Unity Board of Education will be Monday, August 26, 2013, at 6:00 p.m. in the band room. Please note that this is one week later than usual.

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