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Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Price hike comes as shock to BOE

By Margie Wuebker
MARIA STEIN - Marion Local school district recently received an unexpected bill for athletic training services.
After nearly five years of providing services for a token $1 fee, Community Sports Services has announced its intention to charge $10,000 annually. The services include having a certified trainer in attendance for varsity sports and overseeing an academic program for student trainers.
Marion Local currently has 14 students in the advanced training class and 10 in beginner sessions with students receiving one-quarter credit on an annual basis.
"Since I've been here we have had three trainers and they have all been good," football coach Tim Goodwin told school board members on Tuesday night. "It gives a coach tremendous peace of mind to have a professional out there."
Board President Charlie Otte agreed the program is good but termed the price "a shock." He also wondered aloud about phasing in the new cost.
Athletic Director Stan Wilker noted new aspects of the contract include mileage as well as a clause regarding Community Sports Services handling rehabilitation in the wake of an injury. Currently, parents can seek assistance elsewhere if they desire.
Wilker added the athletic department cannot bear the increased cost since it already covers medical supplies at the rate of $3,500 to $4,000 per year and ambulance service at a cost of $200. In addition, the department covers half the cost of insurance for football players amounting to approximately $1,800 per year.
"I took care of paying (the token amount) the first five years," Wilker said with a smile. "You can take care of the next five years."
The board took no action but asked Wilker to look into the matter including justification for the price increase as well as other service providers. It was noted neighboring districts St. Henry, Minster and New Bremen contract with PT Services at a lower rate.
In other action, the board:  
• Learned the district has used all its calamity days with makeup days being March 20 and 24. In the event of further cancellations due to inclement weather, additional days would be added at the end of the school year.
• Named Ron Winner as board representative to a Wednesday afternoon meeting with Ohio Department of Transportation representatives and the Marion Township Trustees. The 1 p.m. session in the board conference room deals with a school travel plan. With receipt of a $5,000 ODOT grant, the first stage involves a safety engineering study for the intersection of state routes 119 and 716. The goal is to increase safety for students walking or bicycling to school.
• Received an update from Treasurer Paul Gagel regarding the recently completed audit. Marion has been penalized $750 for failing to use the recommended Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), but there were no other findings. Marion, like other districts around the state, uses another method, which saves between $5,000 and $8,000.
• Approved a $100 fee for summer physical education classes. The amount covers associated instructional and transportation costs allowing the school district to break even while giving students an opportunity to take the course outside the regular school year.
• Heard a report regarding the observance of Safe Schools Week March 24-28. Activities include fire, tornado, stay put and lockdown drills.
• Noted 77 children were screened as potential kindergarten students for the 2008-2009 school year with another prospective student added following the event.
• Accepted the resignations of assistant varsity football coach Bill Elking and student council adviser Charlie Mescher.
• Learned visiting German students have arrived and will attend class until April 4. A group of Chinese students will be in the area from March 19-24 giving Marion students the opportunity to experience different cultures.
• Met in executive session to discuss compensation of public employees. No action was taken following the closed-door session
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