Saturday, March 10th, 2007
By William Kincaid
Some local schools will get bigger bill from Mercer County ESC
  Some local schools will have a larger-than-expected bill to pay this summer from the Mercer County Educational Service Center.
During the Fort Recovery Local School board meeting in February, Superintendent David Riel told board members that the school would be charged $65,000 more than the ESC's original estimation.    Coldwater, Parkway and St. Henry will also pay an addition $10,000 to $15,000.
After Riel's announcement at the February meeting, board member Steve Wendel said that over time, the estimates should get closer to the actual price. He also said that the system needs to change.
"It doesn't happen every year," Brandon said about the possibility of a much larger final bill than originally estimated. "The ideal thing is we're estimating right on target."
The service center, according to Mercer ESC Treasurer Mary Brandon, estimates each subscribing school's total costs for the year in July. The ESC then performs a mid-year assessment in January and eventually finalizes each school's bills in the summer.
Brandon said Fort Recovery's mid-year cost assessment increased because the school had more students than originally anticipated enrolled in the handicapped and pre-school programs, in addition to the loss of a psychologist by the consortium comprised of Coldwater, St. Henry, Fort Recovery, Marion Local and Parkway.
"The surprise we got was much less than the surprise others got," Riel said about the mid-year cost-assesments, pointing out that others schools were charged much more than originally expected.
However, when asked by the newspaper how much more the other local school districts costs had grown since the original estimation last summer, Brandon said they were - for the most part - where they should be.
But because of Marion Local School District's decision to hire its own psychologist for the 2006-2007 school year, Coldwater, St. Henry, Parkway and Fort Recovery will each pay an additional $10,000 to $15,000 each.
Before the school year, the schools, including Marion Local, - acting as a consortium - shared both the costs and services of Mercer County ESC-employed psychologist Kimberly Piper.
Marion Local, according to Brandon, requested to employ Meercer County ESC-employed psychologist Kimberly Piper on a full-time basis, exclusively for that district, for both psychological and administrative services.
Also, each school's costs, according to Brandon, fluctuate like a roller-coaster throughout the year, as many students either leave or enter a school district, resulting in new enrollments and additional costs for specialized needs.
Some of the services are offered are professional development, a preschool handicap program, a school age handicap program, psychological services, contracted employees, curriculum services and a gifted education program.
When asked by the newspaper each school's cost for subscribed services, Brandon said she did not have specific numbers.
In the future, Brandon said the ESC plans to perform more cost-assesments throughout the year.
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