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|01-13-03: Zuma residents, officials talk about school
|By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
MONTEZUMA - About 50 village residents concerned about the
possibility of closing Celina's Franklin Elementary School next year met Saturday morning
with school district officials in a meeting from which The Daily Standard was barred.
The unrest comes following Thursday's newspaper article where
Superintendent Fred Wiswell confirmed that closing the school is part of budget reduction
measures to be proposed for vote tonight at the Celina City Schools board of education
Wiswell, board members Mary Lehman and Joe Bath, district Business
Manager Mike McKirnan and district Treasurer Mike Marbaugh attended the meeting at the
residents' invitation and presented information involving the proposed closing.
The Daily Standard reporter was asked to leave the meeting by two
residents citing a private meeting wherein they "wanted to talk openly to the school
board' without the press on site. Both men refused to give their names when asked by the
As there were no more than two board members present the meeting did
not violate Ohio's Sunshine Law restrictions governing public meetings and the newspaper
complied with the request to leave.
Montezuma Mayor Charlotte Garman said she thinks the residents' group
chose a "bad way" to handle notifying the public of the meeting, which she was
not able to attend.
"I'm glad they had a nice turnout, but I think if they had
published the date and time in the newspaper a lot more people would have been
there," the mayor told The Daily Standard Sunday via telephone.
The mayor added that she felt closing Franklin school would be
"devastating" to the village.
"I think there are a lot of ways for them to cut costs before they
take away our school. I know everyone here is upset about losing the school," she
A meeting attendee who spoke anonymously Sunday afternoon described the
meeting as "cordial" but said he left "feeling more perturbed" than
before the meeting.
The newspaper has learned the residents' group has put together a
presentation outlining other cost reduction steps that they plan to introduce to the board
this evening before the vote is taken on whether to close the school.
Closing the elementary school as a budget reduction in light of a
predicted $1.5 million deficit by 2004 will be among motions board members will vote on
According to law, the board must submit its plan for addressing the
deficit to the state by Jan. 31.
The board meets at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the high school lecture hall.
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