By LENNY C. LEPOLA News Assistant Managing Editor
November 20, 2013
During Monday evening’s Big Walnut Local School District Board of Education meeting, District Superintendent Steve Mazzi continued the conversation about Big Walnut becoming a four elementary building district by redistricting for the 2014-15 school year and reopening mothballed Harrison Street Elementary School.
Mazzi said the ideal building population would have a student population at just under 75 percent capacity to allow the school district room for anticipated growth in the years ahead. A handout distributed by Mazzi showed numbers that come close to that magic 75 percent after redistricting and reopening Harrison Street.
* Big Walnut Elementary School has a building capacity of 405 students; the target capacity is 302. With the new boundaries BWE’s student population would be 327, or 80.7 percent of capacity.
* General Rosecrans Elementary School has a 500-student capacity. The target capacity is 373. After redistricting the students population would be 387, or 77.4 percent of capacity.
* Hylen Souders Elementary School has a 407-student capacity. Souders’ target capacity is 303, redistricting would give Souders a student population of 301, or 73.9 percent of its capacity.
* The reopened Harrison Street Elementary School has a student capacity of 265. HSE’s target capacity is 197, redistricting would place 208 students at HSE, for 78.5 percent utilization. Mazzi also noted that the district is considering locating a special education unit at Harrison Street.
Mazzi also showed board members a tweaked redistricting map that allows students living on both sides of Ohio 61 north of Sunbury to attend General Rosecrans Elementary School.
“We don’t want buses traveling up and down Route 61 going to different elementary buildings,” Mazzi said. “This redistricting should hold true for many years. We have a fairly good idea where growth would occur, it’s just when.”
Mazzi said the 2014-15 redistricting map would be posted on the school district website, the district administration would make auto-calls to all families impacted by the redistricting, and letters would be sent home with students well before the end of this school year. He also said redistricting maps will be available for families at each school building
“We will have a transition plan in place,” Mazzi said. “We’ll get the kids and their families to their new buildings so they’re familiar with where they’re going. We’re going to take a systematic approach to this.”
When asked about the possibility of some third-grade students remaining with their building through fourth grade even if redistricting would move them to another building, Mazzi said the district would look at the situation and see if it would work.
Mazzi also noted that reopening HSE would only hold back the tide of student population growth for the immediate foreseeable future; that at some point, as the economy improves and residential construction increases, the school district will have to build to accommodate additional students.
“I remember when I was a middle school principal and we had one class with 240 students, and I thought that was a big class,” Mazzi said. “Now we have third and fourth grades hovering in the 260’s and 270’s and we know we have three big platted developments out there. Depending on the year when those developments happen, we won’t be able to handle those types of populations; we’ll have to prepare to build a new elementary school. You can’t put up a school overnight,” he added, “and you can’t put out a No Vacancy sign.”
In her report to the board district treasurer Felicia Drummey said October finances were routine, with revenue higher than expected.
“Our income tax was impacted during the recession, but that was up 10 percent in October,” Drummey said. “That leaves me feeling more positive that the economy is definitely turning in the right direction.”
Drummey did say that the anticipated Build America Bond Rebate payment would be delayed by the Federal shutdown – a.k.a. sequestration.
October expenses were lower than anticipated, Drummey said, because the district’s two new school buses that were due to be delivered in October would not arrive until December. The two buses will cost the school district $161,000.
Mazzi said he remembered not too many years ago when a school bus cost in the mid-$50,000 range, and with a cost reimbursement from the state the school district could buy three buses for the price of two.
Drummey also noted that the property tax rollback rebate that was eliminated in the most recent biennial budget would not impact any existing levies until they expire; and she’s waiting to see whether the rollback would continue with replacement levies or renewal levies.
In other business, district assistant superintendent Angie Pollock said approximately 30 law enforcement officers live in the Big Walnut school district. The district is working on a text alert system that would notify those officers, whether on or off duty, of a situation at a district school building to help shave time off the typical law enforcement five- to six-minute response time.
There was also a brief mention of possibly changing the 2014 board meetings to a Thursday evening.
* Board members adopted the following policy revision (second reading): 5,136 Personal Communication Devices – (Students Replacement); 6,550 Travel Payment & Reimbursement – (Finances Revised); 2,431 Interscholastic Athletics – (Program Revised); 6,320 Purchases – (Finances Revised); 6,320 Purchases – (Bylaws Revised).
* Board members approved the Memorandum of Understanding between the Big Walnut Professional Support Staff and the Big Walnut Local Board of Education.
* Board members approved the following Resolution: Resolution Declaring Transportation to be Impractical for Certain Identified Schools.
* Board members approved the following classified staff contracts for the balance of the 2013-14 school year (90-day probationary is complete): Anthony Michael Schoenberger, Custodian, 3rd Shift, Big Walnut High School; Austin Geiger, Custodian, 2nd Shift, Big Walnut Intermediate School.
* Board approve to rescind the following co-curricular supplemental for the 2013-14 school year, specific portion of motion 13-100: General Rosecrans Elementary, Susan Stein, PAC, group 7, step 1.
* Board members approved the following co-curricular supplementals for the 2013-14 school year:
Erin Erjavec, General Rosecrans Elementary, PAC, group 7, step 0; Joe Weaver, Big Walnut High School, 1/3 Athletic Facilities Coordinator, group 3, step 0.
Board members approved a one-year certified contract for the 2013-14 school year for Jessica Wells, Intervention Specialist, General Rosecrans Elementary, MA+30 step 3, effective October 30, 2013.
Board members accepted the following donation: $500 donated to Big Walnut High School Mu Alpha Theta, donated by Todd & Katherine Dawson.
The next regularly scheduled Big Walnut Local School District Board of Education meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., Monday, December 9, in the Big Walnut High School Media Center.
Board members will hold a 5:30 p.m. reception for retiring board members Pam Lillie and Verna Hines. Members of the public are welcome to attend the reception.