Congratulations and celebrations set the tone of the Perrysburg School Board meeting Monday, although the levy on the upcoming ballot and possible district cuts should it fail gave predictable pause.
A high point came when Kadee Anstadt, director of curriculum, announced to the board that the Ohio Department of Education had given Perrysburg Schools an "excellent with distinction" rating, which is the highest of six rankings based on assessments, attendance, and graduation rates.
"I'm full of great news tonight," Ms. Anstadt said.
Earlier she helped introduce members of the Perrysburg Exchange Club, which presented a $2,200 check for the Sexual Abuse Prevention Program in the district.
The board recognized several Perrysburg students' acheivements, including those whose volunteer and community service had merited a youth Jefferson Award: John Gadient, Madeline Horvat, Michael Gerber, Krista Horvath, Hanya El-Shamy, and Colin Heslet.
Among other honorees was Abdur Rafey Khan who scored a perfect 36 on his ACT assessment.
Board president Barry Van Hoozen said these students were examples of the kind of well-rounded education the district offers, for which it is asking voters to approve a sizable replacement for the 9.95-mill levy that will expire at the end of 2012.
"We can't do those extras without the kind of budget we're asking for. ... A lot is at stake," Mr. Van Hoozen said.
The levy seeks an estimated 13.15 mills that would generate $10 million in the first year. The tax would increase to 14.4 mills in the second year, 15.7 mills in the third year, and 17 mills in the final fourth year.
Under the current levy, the owner of a $200,000 home pays about $609 a year. Under the replacement levy, the owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay about $204 more the first year, then about $72 more a year the next three years.
Richard Emmons, of Perrysburg, challenged the board on its recent suggestions for $5.7 million in staff, programming, and operational cuts.
"What has the school system done to help eliminate things from the top?" Mr. Emmons asked, making reference to a flat percentage cut in salaries and wages for all teachers and administrators.
Board member Gretchen Downs said administrators had not received a raise or cost of living increase for three years, and that teachers were in their second year of stagnant salaries.
"I think that is an important thing to keep in mind," she said.
Superintendent Thomas Hosler said the board had received some criticism for presenting the cuts as threats to the voting public, but he said the contingency plan was a prudent financial move.
"When families do it, when businesses do it, it's just what you have to do to survive," he said.
Mr. Hosler said the levy campaign committee would be going door-to-door soon to reach out to voters.
Other matters raised before the board Monday included:
- Treasurer Matt Feasel said the district's finances were on target, with an uptick in September expenditures likely a timing issue and still within budget. He said classroom expenditures such as supplies and contracted services such as speech therapy accounted for the increases.
- Board member Mark Schoenlein noted that more Perrysburg students were attending Penta Career Center, up from 80 students four years ago to 120 now. Mr. Van Hoozen praised the relationship with the vocational school in Perrysburg Township. "It's proving to be a great alternative," he said.
- Michael Short, principal of Perrysburg High School, thanked the board for its support of the enrichment schedule that gives teachers collaborative planning time and extends periods for student learning. Deb Drew, chairman of the high school's English department, said she had opposed the schedule when it was introduced in 2007 but since had become a staunch supporter. "I am embracing this whole heartedly," Ms. Drew said, adding that the schedule helps standardize students' education for not only state tests but for the high standard within the district.
- Ellen Moser, director of transportation, recognized mechanics Todd Burgy and Nick Bruns for their work in obtaining and implementing a $35,072 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency from its Clean Diesel School Bus Fund. The transportation department contracted with Cummins Bridgeway in Maumee to retrofit 23 buses to reduce exhaust emissions. "It makes it healthier for us to work on them and for the students to ride them," Mr. Burgy said.
Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-356-8786.