Thursday, October 12th, 2017
St. Marys schools face financial woes
Tempers flare during session
By Ed Gebert
ST. MARYS - School officials heard a gloomy financial forecast amid complaints from residents unhappy about plans to move the high school football field and a board member railing about administrators and fellow board members.
Treasurer Robin Laman's five-year forecast shows the district is already spending more money than it raises, and that gap is expected to expand through fiscal year 2022.
The forecast notes deficit spending this school year is $861,201. That gap could spread to $4.45 million in fiscal year 2022. The district's balance in all funds is predicted to fall from a positive balance of $3.32 million this year to a negative balance of nearly $2.69 million in 2020 and a negative balance of $11.53 million in 2022 without any levy renewals or replacements.
Board members say they must consider levy options in 2018. Board member Bob Valentine and interim superintendent Howard Overman agreed the district will have financial issues by fiscal year 2020 even if voters approve a levy renewal or increase.
"Running on the same money since 2004, and I'm not sure how you can do that. The expenditures are up, but the revenue is the same," Overman said.
Later in the meeting, a shouting match erupted when Overman read a prepared statement about the online actions of one board member, whom he did not name.
After members approved revising a board policy about technology use, Overman read a statement accusing a board member of posting on social media in a way that could "compromise the district's mission, undermine staff relationships or cause a substantial disruption to the school environment."
As Overman continued his statement, Valentine began to protest loudly, calling for a point of order from board president Karl Dammeyer. Dammeyer denied Valentine's request for the floor to allow Overman to finish his statement. Valentine, however, continued shouting for a point of order. Soon Overman was forced to raise his voice to be heard above Valentine.
Valentine refused to back down, claiming board policies apply only to district employees and not to board members.
Member Brian Little reminded Valentine that he is paid as a board member, but Valentine claimed that being paid did not make him a district employee, to which Overman asked, "So are you saying these policies that you approve apply to everyone else but you?"
The shouting match continued minutes later when Valentine accused Overman of lying to the board about the results of the district's state report cards. Valentine blamed administrators for poor results. Overman responded that the number Valentine was citing came from two or three different tests given over the past few years.
Other administrators got involved in the argument as well, until Dammeyer asked for a motion to move into executive session to consider the possible purchase or sale of property.
The argument ended without resolution when the board adjourned into executive session. The action was taken on the property in question after the session.
Also on Wednesday, board members,
• approved a revision to Laman's contract that corrected a provision that slightly reduced her pay, placing her on the administrators' pay schedule.
• approved a list of substitute teachers and substitute staff members.
• accepted the resignations of Garet Fledderjohann and Derrick Lauth from middle school boys basketball positions.
• approved extended maternity leave dates for Elizabeth Hinker and Danielle Younker.
• approved donating a small strip of land west of the bus parking lot to the city for use in city development.
• approved continued updating to high-efficiency LED lamps in the next phase of the project list and a request for $50,000 from the maintenance funds to purchase the lighting.
• approved the early graduation of Sierra Matthews.
• accepted the donation of a robot valued at $4,000 from AAP to the Rec Tech program at Dennings Vocational and a $400 donation to the district food service department from the Guiding Mothers OCCL.
• accepted a donation of 24 Chromebooks for East Primary School and 24 Chromebooks for West Intermediate School from the St. Marys Schools PTO.
• accepted a $1,300 donation from St. Marys Community Foundation for the middle school Washington, D.C., trip.
• approved the continuation of naming rights of the tennis complex to Minster Bank for five years.
• accepted a $300 donation from the Sons of the American Legion 323 for the iRead program.
• accepted donations from JT's Restaurant, LuLaRow Mom & Me Boutique, Ben Tuttle Music and Fowler's TV.
• approved the district's tuition rate as determined by the Ohio Department of Education.
• honored Taylor Fisher, a National Merit commended student, who finished in the top 50,000 of more than 1.6 million students who took the PSAT.