|Elida: dying ‘death of a thousand cuts’|
|Wednesday, March 20, 2013 3:13 PM|
BY STACY TAFF
ELIDA — At the Elida Local Schools Board of Education’s last meeting before early voting begins for the May primary election, Superintendent Don Diglia detailed just how dire Elida’s financial situation is and what cuts will have to be made should the district’s levy request fail in May.
The district hopes the 5-year, 5.95-mill property tax levy will succeed where the earned-income tax request failed in November. Elida has cut $2.8 million from its budget, which included closing the Gomer kindergarten building and reducing staff by 43 members over the last 10 years.
If the district receives the $774,000 promised by Governor Kasich and the levy doesn’t pass, Elida will anticipate a carry-over balance of less than $184,000 by the end of next year, even with $464,000 in additional cuts. If the $774,000 doesn’t come, a negative carry-over balance is estimated.
The levy would help the district build a 5-year plan of financial stability. Without it, Diglia says any new cuts made would be devastating.
“This really is dying a death of a thousand cuts. When I say that I struggle to come up with something to recommend to the board to cut, I’m sincere,” he said. “At this point, we have to ask ourselves what we have to have in order to call ourselves a school. If you cut out special education, factor in open enrollment in and out, cut out post-secondary and community school and get it down to just the regular student population, we’re at 2,223.6 students. The state minimum for student-to-teacher ratio is 25:1, so if you do the math, we have to have 88.9 teachers. We currently have 103, so we could technically cut 14 teachers but where would those students go?
“So what’s on the cut list?” he continued. “All-day, everyday kindergarten, extra curricular activities, middle school language or music, high school science, English or foreign language teachers. Is there even a choice here? What about administrators? They’re an easy target but we’re lean there. One of the unfunded mandates we’ve been given is there has to be teacher to administrator ratio of 15:1. We’re at 20:1 in the high school, 24.5:1 at the middle school, and 27.5-1 at the elementary school. Anything we cut will have devastating consequences for our students. I really wish I could paint a better picture for you. Vote yes on this levy, it’s critical. It will give us a good foundation financially for the next five years.”
In addition to the 5.95 mill operating levy, voters will also be asked to renew the district’s 1.0-mill Permanent Improvement Levy, which goes strictly to tangible improvements to the district and cannot be used for salaries or other operating expenses.
In other news, the board voted unanimously on an action item to put their collective foot down when it comes to the two new voucher programs that Governor Kasich proposes in his biennial budget (House Bill 59), which will bring an increase in the number of publicly-funded vouchers that allow students to attend private and parochial schools. Ohio already has four such programs. The board stated its refusal to support any legislation that would transfer public dollars to support private education, further reducing the funds received by public schools.
Students of the month for March were: Elida Elementary- Landen Crates, Kegan Swallow, Shyanne Dahill; Elida Middle School- Isaac Dry, Broden Hurst, Ashley Watkins, Wyatt Wuest; Elida High School- Chloe Bechdolt, Alisha Brenneman, Mitch Knotts, Jesse Stauffer.
March was proclaimed National Nutrition month and Fine Arts in Our Schools month in Elida Local Schools.
The following resignations were accepted: Teresa Griffith (custodian, effective March 5) and Jessica Lawson (middle school football/basketball coach).
The following personnel were approved for employment: Certified— William Kellermeyer, Jr. (long-term Sub. Soc. Studies teacher at Elida HS); Non-certified— Ed Barnhart (bus driver), Teresa Bechdolt (cook), Laura Fingerle (cook), Tina Winget (cook); Supplemental— Jessica Lawson (Varsity Football Cheer Coach), Brett Halsey (Asst. Varsity Football Coach); Substitute teachers— Lindsay Turner, Heather Kennedy, Natalie Miller, Elizabeth Bayliff, Tabitha Winner, Craig Hershey, Suzanne Troyer, Erica Clay, Mitchell Neal, Angela Snow and Brandon Morse.