Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
New Bremen board votes to keep post
By Jeff Elking
NEW BREMEN - The number of school district administrators will remain unchanged, for now.
Board members on Wednesday voted 3-2 to keep the high school principal position. Members Scott Bertke and Tom Hall voted to eliminate the position while members Shelly Busse, Doug Hall and Cory Suchland voted against the measure.
"We have decided this cut needs further examination and will not take place for the 2017-2018 year," board members later announced in a joint news release. "We will continue to look at all of our options to best utilize our resources."
Superintendent Andrea Townsend recently recommended suspending high school principal Brian Pohl's contract and eliminating the position to help offset looming funding cuts. Board members had tabled the decision at their Feb. 8 meeting to allow further research and discussion.
With several staff and community members in attendance on Wednesday, the discussion continued before the vote.
Paul said discussions to curtail spending have been ongoing for several years.
Board member information stated the district lost funding from tangible personal property taxes in the last state budget. This had generated nearly $500,000 for the district annually. State funding is projected to decrease $250,000 each year while operating costs will increase.
"We are trying to best utilize the districts' funds," Paul said. "Eventually we will need another operating levy. We are trying to push that down the road as far as possible."
The district's current operating levy was passed in 2002.
Busse said she understood the numbers but was concerned about the intangible effects, such as student safety, staff reaction and having a principal in the building at all times. She also questioned if the other principals' contracts would need to be rewritten if the reduction took place.
Townsend said reviewing the contracts might be necessary.
Bertke supported downsizing, noting districts similar in size to New Bremen's, such as Minster's, Marion Local's and Botkins', all operate with two principals.
"I feel it's just right-sizing us to what the enrollment is. It also puts us in line if the voters approve the new K-8 building in May. It will right-size us for the one campus location."
In other news, elementary principal Diane Kramer said state testing, which is completed on-line, will begin March 14. She also noted the spring open house will be from 6:30-8 p.m. March 13.
Also on Wednesday, board members,
• learned senior Alexa Paulus has been chosen to represent the district at the county level at the April 5 Franklin B. Walter banquet in Wapakoneta.
• learned the local Rotary Club had hosted its first speech contest. Kathie Paulus won the competition and will next compete in the regional level in Van Wert.
• hired four lawn care employees on an as-needed basis for 2017 at the rate of $10 per hour.
• heard from spring sports athletes on their upcoming seasons. Participation numbers for the programs are as follows: boys and girls track, 23 members each; softball, 34 members; and baseball, 30 members.
• recognized winter sports teams and their collective and individual accomplishments.