SPRINGFIELD TWP. Springfield Local Schools Treasurer Chris Adams gave an update on the five-year forecast during the May 21 Board of Education meeting.
“I’ve been the treasurer here for close to 10 years," Adams said. "I was always happy to get up and give a five-year forecast because I could spread the good cheer. Well, things have run its course in school funding and my job is going to get a little more difficult in the next few years."
The good points were that there is new construction going on in the village which will help with funding. In Springfield last year, a 53-home development was built in one year. He expects to see some additional revenue from these new homes being built in two to three years. Also, the education budget has not been finalized.
He said with education, a large amount of the budget is personnel.
“We don’t produce anything, we mold minds,” said Adams.
He said the district is also self-insured, so the cost is dependent on the health of employees.
Adams projects a new levy being placed on the ballot in 2020 but added that is not cut in stone. The district has not asked for new operating money in 20 years.
“There are only so many rabbits we can pull out of the hat before it is time," he said. "I think it is prudent that we tell the taxpayers and everybody else that it may happen.”
He said officials will be looking at things a little differently the next couple of years, adding that the five-year forecast factors in the renewal levies passing.
“We always look at attrition and nobody wants to be in that situation," Adams said. “The forecast isn’t dire; I have seen a lot worse. We will be looking at things a little differently in the next couple of years."
The forecast was approved. Also approved were placing the three renewal levies on the ballot. Board members pointed out that they are renewals and with no new money collected. The levies are more than 15 years old and are vital to for the district to operate.
Parents raise concerns
During the meeting, parents expressed their concerns over incidents of bullying especially at the intermediate level at Schrop. Mothers Jennifer White said she has made six attempts this year to get two kids away from her daughter on the bus. She said she is getting ignored about the bullying issues and she doesn’t know what to do next.
“I don’t know what the issues are but, something needs to be changed," she said.
Superintendent Chuck Sincere said he will talk with the administration about this and meet with White and administration.
“We want to work with you on this situation. We want to talk more about this,” he said.
Board member Mary Lou Dodson said that this is a big problem everywhere, not just at Springfield.
Board member Neal Hess thanked White for bringing it to their attention.
“Used to be when you went home as a kid you were sheltered from it (bullying) but today with social media it continues.” He said.
Hess said a difficult part is that it usually is a “he said she said, often no proof.” He said they need to get better at handling this, and they appreciate the parents coming.
“It is one of the most difficult issues that the administration and parents have to deal with,” he said.
Sincere said school safety is the district's No. 1 priority. He said the State of Ohio has seen this problem grow and they have mandated more training for staff and students in Ohio schools.
“It isn’t a Springfield thing. We take it very seriously and there will be more training here. We appreciate you being her tonight," Sincere said.
Parent Kyle Henline said he had helped to organize some of the meetings with parents on the bullying issue. One thing they suggested was to have an independent council with a member from both police departments, a board member and a parent from each school. And having a place where students and teachers could anonymously submit bullying issues.
Currently, Sincere mentioned, district runs a student hotline where any student can call and report issues and it is confidential. He said they work very closely with the police departments on the issues.
“I do like the idea of everybody working together for the safety of the children," he said. "I am not opposed to putting together a group of parents, police and board members to help support that. We do have some real nice systems in place for students to report both by phone, online from school or from home.”
Henline also spoke about the high-tech cameras that are on the Akron School buses and Springfield board members said that was something to investigate. Springfield buses have cameras, however, they are up front and cannot clearly see all angles. Sincere said there needs to be more communication between school to parents and parents to school in these situations.
“I agree with you,” said Sincere. “Communication is something we could work on, always getting better. When parents work with the schools it is beneficial for the children.” He assured Henline that they do view the camera recordings when there are incidents.
Board member Shannon Marcum said she does not think bullying is typical in their schools but when it does occur, officials are very concerned about it.
“We need to be on top of it," she said.
Marcum said a group of parents have come to Sincere and asked what they could do. Sincere organized for a well-known anti bullying speaker to speak at the schools and to hold a public session. Marcum said she was disappointed in the small number of those in attendance at the public session.
“For all the passion that was behind the accusations of bullying, Facebook posts and criticism, I was disappointed in the amount of people that showed," she said.
Hess said speaking as a parent, “We have a personal responsibility to protect our children from being bullied. We also have a personal responsibility to protect our children from becoming bullies. As parents, we have to do a better job about speaking to our children about bullying and about the repercussions of being a bully.”
Parents are concerned about students being told if they fight back when a bully physically hurts them, they will also be in trouble. A discussion took place between parents and board members as to whether kids should fight back or not. Marcum said she has instructed her children if they are ever physically harmed, they should run for help not fight. Parent Ray Stevens said running and not fighting back exacerbates the situation.
Parent Tina Lischak mentioned a story that involved bullying and both students were offered counseling and the bullies family denied it.
“I think, in order to come back to Springfield, you need to have mandatory counseling for those bullies," Lishak said.
Marcum said that was an interesting idea and one they could discuss.
“I have to say that not every child at Schrop is being bullied, but the ones that are, it needs to be handled.”
Hess said he understands, “this is a very emotional issue and we appreciate that. We need to do everything we can.”
Dodson thanked the parents for coming to the meeting.
“We appreciate the input. Sometimes we need to be poked and prodded like anyone else," she said.
- Springfield High School and Junior High School Teacher Andrea Novicky and students from the Creative Solutions and Design class presented the board members with Spartan gifts they had made on their 3-D printer. The class took the board on a field trip to their classroom through a virtual tour. The junior high students spoke about their projects and showed them to the board. This is a new class at the school and in a snowflake design competition (making snowflakes on a 3-D printer) they took first place against classes from around the world and they won another 3-D printer. Principal Shaun Morgan said there are currently 170 interested in the class for next year.
- Kevin Vaughn, athletic director, updated the board on athletics at the schools. He spoke about the Second and Seven foundation in which athletes from the high school reading to elementary students. He recognized the Booster Club $1,000 scholarship recipients, Marissa Fuller, Caitlin O’Quinn, Noah Costantino and Shawn Terry. Vaughn said that many teams will make good use out of the batting cage donated by the All Sports Booster Club. He recognized Saira Riddle, softball, who was chosen by the Beacon Journal as a Greater Akron Area Best of Preps All-Stars.
- During the meeting the board approved personnel items that included the retirement resignation of classified employees Elden Lanik, Michael Huffman, Cheryl Glaze and Boni Akers. The resignation of tutor Brittany Lewis was accepted. Tenure was approved for teacher Michael Leonhardt. Approved hires and reassignments include Steve Shaffer as a summer school instructor for the 2019 online summer school for grades 9 to 12 and reassign Amy Hurst as a two-hour cafeteria employee at Springfield High School Junior High School and Tracie Holstein as a two-hour educational assistant. Athletic supplemental contracts and volunteer coaches were approved for the 2019-2020 school year. Extended School Year certified and classified personnel was approved.
- The 2019 senior list of 179 seniors to receive diplomas was approved.
Approved service agreements for the district included:
- A day treatment purchase service agreement with KRG Education Services Inc. to provide education services in accordance with placement at the Leap Program for the 2019-20 school year.
- An electronic security system contract with Diligent Electronic Security Systems.
- A quotation from NEOnet for E-Rate Category 2 project at Springfield High School and Junior High for network hardware installation and configuration. Also, a contract with NEOnet to provide IP Telephony service. Business Manager Dustin Boswell said the update to technology project is exciting and is needed. The project will overhull all of the technology for the high school junior high building with 75 percent of the cost is paid for through federal funds. There will also be an upgrade to the camera system.
- A memorandum of understanding with the Springfield Local Association of Classroom Teachers (SLACT) for participation in the new OTES pilot for the 2019-2020 school year was approved. The teachers took on this pilot program and will have input for the requirements of the mandatory program across the state next year.
Next Regular Board of Education Meeting Community Room will be held at 6 p.m., June 18 at Springfield High School Junior High School.