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Young Elementary to close, more cuts loom, if Springfield Schools' levy fails in November

Carolynn Mostyn
Suburbanite correspondent
  • Young Elementary will close if 7.7-mil levy fails
  • Cuts also to arts, drama and music programs
  • Cuts to middle and high school sports programs would be mad

SPRINGFIELD TWP.  Looming financial issues were addressed during the Sept. 15 Springfield Local Schools Board of Education meeting, including potentially being forced to close Young Elementary School.

The Board held an executive session and, after returning to the meeting, announced what steps will be taken if the district's 7.7-mill levy does not pass during the Nov. 3 election.

Board President Dave Hofer said the is district required by the state to have a balanced budget.

“We will have to make moves if it (the levy) fails," he said. "First, we will close Young Elementary School. That would save the district about $1.2 million. If the levy passes, Young stays open.”

Along with the school closure, Hofer said the district would need to find another $1.8 million in cuts.

Those cuts would include:

• Elementary art and music.

• Cuts in the fine arts, drama, band, choir and art at the Junior/Senior High School and Schrop.

• Sports will be cut at the Junior/Senior High School.

“This is not what we want to do," Hofer said. "It is not a pleasant thing to say. We have gone 20 years without new operating money. I know people have gotten confused with the junior/senior building, but that is something different that is not operating money.”

Hofer was referring to a bond issue passed in 2010 that, along with state funding, allowed for the construction of the new junior/senior high school building. By 2023 that (building) will be one third paid for.

“It is pretty cut and dry," Hofer said. "There may be more things cut as we get deeper into the budget. That is what we know of right now. Call the office, make an appointment to talk with Treasure Chris Adams. He will be happy to show you the books. He has been awarded the state auditor award three times consecutively. You don’t get that by mismanaging money in the State of Ohio."

Board Member Neal Hess said to cut to $3 million will be exceptionally difficult.

“We can’t cut our core curriculum or our special education offerings to our students," he said. "It just leaves the arts, music and sports. We don’t have a choice.”

Hess said the students already don’t have the opportunities they would like to give them as the district is running as lean as possible.

“This isn’t a threat we don’t want to punish," Hess said. "It is what we have to do to meet our lawful duties as a school district. I hope everyone supports our children."

“We have been pretty fiscally responsible not to have new operating money for 20 years,” added Board Member Mary Lou Dodson.

So far, the district has seen $1 million cut by the state due COVID-19 alone.

“I think 20 years is a long time (for new money)," Adams said. "If we were mismanaging our money you would be reading about it in the paper and I wouldn’t be sitting here.

“This is the calm before the storm month. Next month, we have the five-year forecast and we will be visited by the auditing team." 

Adams said the team he has been working with at Springfield has been together for a long time and they work well together.

Superintendent Chuck Sincere said he had a phone conversation with Gov. Mike DeWine, to discuss the issues facing the district. DeWine, according to Sincere, showed concern for the situation. 

It was a great opportunity for me to share things with him," Sincere said. "He is concerned about what is going on with Springfield Local Schools.”

In other actions, the board:

• Accepted the retirement/resignation of bus driver Linda Gerstenslager; teachers Jenny Droppleman, Emma Goubeaux and Jessica Casher; classified employees Tina Rodhe; bus mechanic Terry Robinson; and varsity football assistant coach Rick Kaderly.

• Approved a reduction of classified positions effective the 2020-21 school year, including bus monitor, bus mechanic: reduced from 8 to 4 hours; two teaching assistants at Schrop Intermediate; two teaching assistants at the junior/senior high school; and two preschool teaching assistants: reduce from 6.5 hours to 4 hours.

• Approved the release of employment with classified employees Jennifer Stubbs, Lori Hoxworth, Sandra Haught and Donna Allen. Reassigned Tyan Maloney from a 6.5-hour preschool teaching assistant to a 4 hour preschool teaching assistant; Jennifer Fenton from a 6.5 hour preschool teaching assistant to a 4 hour assistant; Deborah McKenzie from a 6.5 hour teaching assistant at Schrop Intermediate to a 7 hour teaching assistant at the junior/senior high school; Dennise Amundson from a 7 hour teaching assistant at Schrop to a 7-hour teaching assistant at the junior/senior high school; Lin Benninger as a bus driver; Lia Edsall as an 8-hour custodian at Schrop; Kimberly Garretson and Karmeta Garretson as PLCC midday routed drivers; Jeffry Allen as a routed driver; Jelena Pajic as a 7-hour cook; and Nancy Arends from a 7-hour teaching assistant at the junior/senior high school to a 6.5 hour teaching assistant at Spring Hill Elementary. Approved the re-employment of Jennifer Stubbs from the reduction-in-force list per as an Everyday Reading Program teaching assistant at Spring Hill Elementary; Lori Hoxworth from the reduction-in-force list as a two hour educational assistant at Schrop; Sandra Haught from the reduction-in-force list as a 7 hour educational assistant at the junior senior high school.

• Approved the employment of Darren Hurst as a 4 hour bus mechanic, Patricia Fitzsimmons as a routed bus driver, Joseph Epner as a routed bus driver, Noel Bates as a long term substitute teacher, Shane Robinson as a 100 percent intervention specialist, Jasmine Holt as an intervention specialist tutor, Ashley Puls as an Intervention Specialist Tutor, Jeffrey Allen as a routed bus driver and Tayler Wiy as a 100 percent 6th grade online teacher at Schrop Intermediate School.

Business Manager Dustin Boswell explained that the reduction in force list was due to student enrollment and needs.

• Approved a letter of intent with Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) Local #179 concerning reductions and reassignments during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding with Waterloo Local Schools to provide Title 1 services to residents of Springfield Local Schools who attend St. Joseph School located within the Waterloo Local School District. This has been done for several years.

• Approved a service agreement Hometown Ticketing to provide a platform to make available online ticket sales to customers. Members of the board said they see more and more ticketing going online. This is an online website used to purchase tickets for school events.

• Approved a service contract with Education Plus for fiscal years 2021, 22 and 23 to manage the Federal E-Rate Program application process.

The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Oct. 20.

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