By: Tim Kays
At their January 18 meeting, members of the North Central Board of Education heard District Superintendent William Hanak present the subject of placing another school levy on the upcoming May 4 ballot.
This request follows on the heels of two rejected measures in 2020, an 0.5% earned income tax, and a 3.92 mill property tax levy. The new proposal is for a 3.87 mill emergency levy that would generate $420,000 per year for the next five years.
The District opened up its website to polling the local taxpayers on their demographics, opinions and preferences. Showing the pie charts of the data gathered on funding preferences, Hanak said, “If you break that down, earned income tax…about 33% of the respondents chose that.”
“If some kind of a property tax, which these were exactly the same amount of money…it’s actually 3.87 mils, it went down a little bit, but $420,000, that was about 47% of the choices was some sort of a property tax (22.4% permanent improvement and 26.2% emergency operating). And then 19% of the respondents…chose nothing.”
Continuing on the surveys, Hanak said, “On the questionnaire, 74% of the respondents said that we were fiscally responsible. About 80%, 79.5%, said they support athletics. And then there were many insights and ideas to be considered for improvements and being involved.”
“I just want to say again, thanks for all those who offered ideas, talked to board members, took the time to fill something out and send it in.” The data and the charts can be found on the District website.
“Looking at the numbers from last fiscal year to the current fiscal year at the same point in time,” District Treasurer Eric Smeltzer reported, “…we are about $320,000 ahead of where we were last year.”
“Obviously that’s due to some of the cuts that we’ve already made, where possible, with attrition when staff members leave, not replacing if it does not need to be replaced, and then also with all the additional COVID money that has come in to the school district from the state and federal government. It’s been mentioned many times, but the Madison and Bridgewater Townships, those donations have really helped us offset some of our costs, so we do appreciate that.”
“We’re doing a thank you to Bridgewater Township…again” Hanak added later. “I say that again because they’ve come to the plate and helped us out again, with a donation of $11,740 more. That gives us a total from Bridgewater of about $51,000 for COVID-19 expenses.”
“I want you to think about that, and think about how awesome that is, and how much that helped us in a time of COVID-19, which, I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m almost tired of it as anybody else.”
“All the things that have to be done to keep kids safe, because that’s our number one goal is to make sure that our students and staff are safe, and this helps us to do that. I want to remind everybody, on top of that, Madison township has donated another $28,000. So let’s not forget about that.”
“And then on top of that, we got $35,000 of our own. So in total, and we keep good track of this, we spent over $109,000 on COVID-19 related expenses.”
“If you add those up, a lot of it we’ve been able to offset with donations, and I call them donations because they could have given them to anybody; they didn’t have to give them to the school. So there are people in the community stepping up to help us out, and that’s money that we would have been spending out of our general fund.”
“I don’t want people to think it’s one time use COVID items,” Board member Anthony Burnett said. “I mean we’ve got airless hand dryers; we’ve got sanitizer dispensers. We’ve got some new floor scrubbers with that. We bought a lot of things that are great for the District long term, as well with that.”
“It’s not a one and done, wasting the money just to get us through COVID and then it’s all garbage.” “It’s things that have helped us that would have come out of general fund like Anthony pointed out,” Hanak added. “We’ve also bought the electromagnetic sprayers that are used on our buses more than once a day, and used in classrooms or in different places, and those things aren’t cheap.”
Of that COVID impact on the District, Hanak reported, “We’ve had 42 positive cases in our school. That counts students and staff. I don’t know if you remember the December meeting, it was 25 total. We’re up to 42 now, so that breaks down to 16 students and 26 staff. We have had over 240 kids quarantined or positive since this all started, and we’ve had 53 staff quarantined or positive since this all started.”
Hanak also addressed the 2021-22 District calendar that has been agreed upon by the staff. “August 18, 2021, would be the first day,” he said. “The last day of school for students would be May 26, 2022, and then graduation would be May 29, 2022.”
“We would have six hours and 20 minutes of instructional time per day. We have a 184-day calendar; a 180 day student calendar, minus professional development, will be a 174 day calendar with roughly 1,101 hours and 42 minutes. So about 1,102 hours of instruction. This calendar was voted on by the staff. They chose option one, which was what I just identified.”
“This will be something that we would look at to adopt in the February meeting.” Burnett asked, “As well as adopting this calendar, are we looking to get back to a normal school day? That 8:00 to 2:50? “8:00 to 2:50 is the plan,” Hanak replied. “There’s 30 minutes for lunch…which takes it takes up to 6 hours and 20 minutes.”
In other actions, the Board hired Megan Carpenter as a Cafeteria Substitute, and extended one-year supplemental contracts to Ryan Bethel as a Volunteer Baseball Coach, Jamie Brown as the Girls JV Softball Coach, Josh Hicks and Sam Pettit Boys as JV and Assistant Varsity Baseball coaches, and Alyssa Swank as Girls Assistant Softball Coach.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org