Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
By Margie Wuebker
Marion class enrollment on the decline
  MARIA STEIN - Marion Local High School will bid farewell to one of its larger classes in May, according to reports presented when the board of education met Monday night.
A list of 93 prospective graduates was approved, with smaller classes in the years ahead. School officials have talked at previous meetings about an anticipated decline in enrollment.
"This is one of our larger classes," Superintendent Carl Metzger told The Daily Standard. "The current junior class has 79 students while the sophomores and freshmen number 83 and 80 respectively. After that we're in the 60s until the current sixth-graders with 81 and the current third grade with 74."
Metzger also updated the board on a Jarod's Law inspection conducted April 4 by a representative of the Mercer County Health Department. While the overall inspection went well, school officials are awaiting the final report regarding the safety of buildings and equipment.
The board is considering the replacement of bleachers at the elementary/middle school with Metzger indicating bid action could come as early as May. The current bleachers pose a safety concern, school officials have said.
A summer maintenance program involves the patching and sealing of blacktop at the high school and middle school. The project, which is done every few years, is funded with permanent improvement money and not general fund dollars.
Another project to be completed is the installation of playground equipment purchased with funds raised by the Parent-Teacher Association.
Director of Student Services Kim Piper updated the board on her plans to apply for a 21st Century grant from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). In addition to completing an application for Marion Local, she is doing a joint application with St. Henry and Ansonia.
CeCe Wheeler of the Mercer County Educational Service Center told prospective applicants that joint proposals may catch the attention of ODE as a more sustainable project. The application deadline is April 25.
Districts could receive up to $300,000 to support reading and math intervention activities outside of school time.
In other business, the board:
• Extended two-year contracts to high school Principal Mike Pohlman and maintenance supervisor Larry Hemmelgarn. Their salaries will be set when the board takes action on administrative salaries in July.
• Approved the purchase of an 84-passenger transit school bus from Cardinal Bus Sales & Service at a cost of $73,822. Delivery is expected in September.
• Accepted the retirements of secretary Marlene Bruggeman and bus driver Andy Schlarman and the resignations of teacher Charlie Mescher, junior high student council adviser Randy Jutte, and Jodi Pierstorff, Students Against Destructive Decisions, drama club and theatre production adviser.
• Approved a military leave of absence for teacher Patrick Minnich from Aug. 14 to Oct. 31 and unpaid family and medical leave for teacher Patricia Lefeld from April 21 through May 22.
• Learned the Mercer County Sheriff's Office will be assisting with administering breathalyser tests at the junior-senior prom. Students who signed the Prom Promise to stay drug and alcohol free will be tested.
• Noted the final two-hour delay of the year for staff inservice takes place Thursday. Topics include a value-added update, an update on achievement testing guidelines and review of the district's Continuous Improvement Plan.
• Set May 5 as the date for the annual staff appreciation banquet at the Knights of St. John Hall in Maria Stein. The 7 p.m. banquet takes place during Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week, May 5-9.
• Met in executive session to discuss compensation of public employees. No action was taken following the 1 hour and 22 minute session.
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