Thursday, February 9th, 2017
New Bremen considers cutting post
Cost savings sought
By Jeff Elking
NEW BREMEN - School board members on Wednesday considered suspending high school principal Brian Pohl's contract to cut costs.
Superintendent Andrea Townsend proposed the move, which would suspend Pohl's contract effective June 30. She cited the district's financial condition and declining enrollment. Pohl, who earns $90,714 a year, is in his fifth year as principal.
Records indicate that enrollment has declined nearly 15 percent since 2006 when the district had 923 students. Final figures for 2015 showed 785 students in K-12, Townsend said.
An audience of nearly 30 people, including many teachers, listened intently as board members questioned the superintendent. Townsend cited several reasons for her recommendation, including her belief that an operating levy is almost inevitable within the next five years. She said she wants to do "what would have the least impact to the student." The five-year savings would be $600,000.
Board members Doug Hall and Shelly Busse asked what challenges this would present and how Townsend planned to divide Pohl's 40 hours each week. Townsend said she would take on an interim principal role at the start of the school year and work with the current elementary and middle school principals to split up the workload.
"I would be willing to take on the bulk of the work," she stated.
Middle school principal Jason Schrader is certified as a K-12 administrator and could spend time in the high school building, she added.
Members also questioned the possible passage of the new building levy. If the levy passes, they asked if Townsend could handle the added workload of overseeing the construction of a new building along with sharing principal duties.
Community member Rob Fleming posed several questions including if the superintendent believed the building levy would pass if the reduction were enacted.
"Why should I pay $2,000 more in taxes for a new building with no principal?" he asked.
Board member Scott Bertke suggested the issue be tabled until a later date. The other members unanimously agreed, feeling more deliberation was needed. Busse suggested,
"If we are going to reorganize, we need to vet out how we are going to divide the responsibilities more fully," Busse said.
Townsend said she would continue to research the issue and bring more ideas in the future.
In other action, plans are set to replace the district's main data storage system and the virtual server hosts this summer. This equipment holds and controls nearly all of the district's data and networking information, technology coordinator Brian Puthoff said. The devices, which will have been in use for five years this summer, are recommended to be replaced at or before five years.
Also on Wednesday, board members,
• viewed a presentation from robotics team members, who demonstrated the robot they had built and what they had learned. The team participated in several competitions this year and plans to schedule additional scrimmages against local schools this spring.
• learned from the Auglaize County Auditor's Office that the district's valuation has risen 0.8 percent from last year to $114.9 million.
• approved the list of supplemental contracts for spring sports and acknowledged several community members who volunteer to assist with extracurricular activities.
• learned 100 percent of this year's senior class members have passed the Ohio Graduation Test.
• learned senior Alexa Paulus has been chosen to represent the district at the county level for the Franklin B. Walter award. One student from each county is annually awarded a scholarship named for the former state superintendent of schools.
• invited residents to a March 8 public hearing to discuss how Special Education IDEA Part B funds are spent.
• learned the 2017 New Bremen Education Foundation fund drive has begun. Last year nearly $80,000 in scholarships was awarded to graduating seniors. Anyone interested in donating or more information should Contact Jeff McCollum or Townsend.
• learned 50 students are registered for kindergarten screening March 28-29.
• learned MAC athletic officials will meet in April to discuss ways to generate additional funds to offset the rising costs of equipment and officials. Proposals include increasing the gate price admission to boys football and basketball games to $7 and starting to charge admission to baseball and softball games.
• announce the next regular board meeting will be at 7 p.m. March 8.