Springfield BOE approves sports fee, closure

Carolynn Mostyn
Suburbanite correspondent

SPRINGFIELD TWP.  The Springfield Local Schools Board of Education approved legislation for a pay to participate policy and to close Young Elementary School.

During the Feb. 16 meeting, the pay to participate policy was approved beginning with the 2021 spring season at a cost of $300 per athlete. The fee will be for any student in grades 9 to 12 who plans to participate in any district sport.

The district also will not be offering an athletic program for those students in grades 7 and 8 in the spring. The fee is to offset the expenses the Board incurs in providing the programs and co-curricular activities. It is to be paid in full by March 27 for for baseball, softball and track and field. If the fee is not paid by the deadline, the student will have not be allowed to have contact with the team and can't participate in any activity until the fee is paid. The paying of the fee does not guarantee any student playing time. Fees can be paid at www.k12paymentcenter.com.

Board President Neal Hess said the information will be published on the district's website. He said the teams have never recovered from the pay to participate from 10 years ago.

“This is something we should offer our students,” he said.

Board member Chad Lance said he is not in support of the pay to participate but it is part of the fiscal responsibility.

“I will support it with my vote but not with my heart,” he said.

Young Elementary to close

Board members also approved the resolution to close Young Elementary School and the redistricting of the Springfield Local School District beginning in the 2021-22 school year.

Due to the financial hardships the district if facing after the failure of two attempted levies for additional operating funds, third grade students will move to Schrop Intermediate School, while Spring Hill Elementary will educate students in pre-kindergarten through second grade. Schrop will educate third through sixth graders. The board agreed it was better to keep the 6th graders in the elementary schools as opposed to moving them to the junior high.

Hess said things are going to be tight but “we have to do it.”

“We are doing this because we have to, not because we want to," he added. "It is unfortunate. We got a letter from the State Board of Education forcing our hand to do this.”

Hess said that he was insulted by some of what the letter said and added that the State of Ohio “does not care about the students in this district.”

He said community is going to need to fight for those kids and falling into fiscal emergency is not the answer.

“At this time, we are one step away from fiscal emergency," Hess said. "I apologize to the teachers and staff at Young, I know they love their school.”

Financial recovery plan

The Board also approved a revised financial recovery plan that is available online at www.springfieldspartans.org/finance.

Treasurer Chris Adams said the plan includes the closure of Young and $250,000 the state gave back to the district from the $1 million in funding that originally was slashed.

Adams said the district is slated to possibly receive a little more than $1.7 million from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.

“We are hoping to offset teachers and or programs with the money,” said Adams.

The funds are restricted like grant funds as to how they can be used and they have not received guidance from the state as to how it will be allowed to use the funding. Adams said it is important for taxpayers to understand that even with the funds, the district is still, “($1 millon) in the hole.”

"Our problem is more than a one-time payment from the federal government, it is a continual revenue issue," Adams said. "I'd rather get through this with new money than have people’s lives turned upside down with job loss and athletics pay to play.

If the income tax levy that the Board approved for the May primary is not passed, Adams said the only way out is by making more cuts. He explained that it takes longer to collect the funds from a tax levy than a real estate levy and the process will take about three years.

College Credit Plus program

Director of Curriculum Mary Meadows and Stark State University Director of College Credit Plus Shelly McCombs presented information on the CCP opportunities for Springfield students. Meadows said it is a great opportunity for the students to earn college credit while in high school.

McCombs said that the program is for grades 7 through 12. Stark State has the second largest total of students enrolled in CCP in Ohio with about 3,500 students representing 75 districts. Students have opportunities to take some classes at Springfield High School, online in a classroom setting or at either Stark State campus. The presentation can be seen on Spectrum Cable channel 1023 or on the school’s You Tube channel.

In other business, the Board:

• Approved personnel items that included the reassignment of Lisa Gainer and the employment Matthew Schulte as a two-hour cafeteria employee. The position is in addition to his custodial position. Also approved was the employment of Cheryl Wagner as a classified substitute.

• Approved two, three-year administrative contracts for Business Manager Dustin Boswell and Meadows. Superintendent Chuck Sincere said there were no changes to the contracts from three years ago. Also approved were a variety of athletic supplemental contracts for the 2020-21 school year.

• Approved memorandums of understanding for College Credit Plus for Stark State College and the University of Akron during the 2021-22 school year.

• Approved a service agreement with Northeast Ohio Network for Educational Technology (NEONET) to provide internal broadband services from July 1 through June 30, 2024. Boswell said NEONET provides the connectivity for the wireless network and the E-rate program for school funding covers about 70 percent of the cost.

• Approved a resolution to expand employment of substitute teachers consistent with the amended House Bill 409. It is hoped this will help in getting substitute teachers.

• Made the community aware that a school audit is currently going on. Board members said that residents don’t always realize that the state audits the schools each year and the districts have to pay about $30,000 for it. Board members brought up the audit because residents have accused it of skimming money. 

• Citizens comments were read during the virtual meeting and responded to. To hear the comments and responses watch the meeting on the You Tube channel. There is a link at www.springfieldspartans.org and click on board of education. Also, the meeting is available on Spectrum channel 1023.

The next regular board of education meeting will be held at 6 p.m., March 16. At this time, it is planned to be held in person. A community meeting will be held online March 2 to discuss the upcoming school tax and finances.