|Celina school board approves plan reducing costs; puts 2 levies on ballot
By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
Celina City Schools board of education members voted unanimously Monday
night to close Franklin Elementary School next school year as part of a reduction plan to
save an estimated $729,150.
The budget reduction plan, required by Jan. 31 by the Ohio Department
of Education, addresses the district's projected $1.5 millio deficit for next year.
The board also approved two ballot issues for the May election, which
include a 3/4 percent, five-year income tax levy replacing the similar 1 percent levy that
failed in November, and renewal of the 7-mill emergency operating levy that expires at the
end of this year. Revenue problems
Citing financial strain from unsuccessful levy attempts (six failures
of the last seven attempts) and uncertain revenue from state and federal governments in
addition to declining enrollment, Wiswell said he believes cuts outlined in the reduction
plan will permit the district to maintain its academic integrity and provide
learning challenges to students.
The reduction plan includes two parts - Part A and Part B (shown on the
back page). Part A already has been put into action and includes closing Franklin
elementary next school year. Board members said the school will remain closed regardless
if the new levies are passed, due to the district's tight budget and decreased enrollment.
Part B of the reduction plan states that, if either of the two issues
in May fails to pass, all athletics and supplemental activities, such as band, choir,
National Honor Society, etc., will be eliminated.
"These have been tough decisions for all of us and we've worked
long hours putting together the plan that is best for our students," Wiswell said,
adding the board is, in effect, responding to the cry from the community to cut costs.
Parents and friends of Franklin school offered their own 11th hour cry
on Monday night, headed by Montezuma resident and former board of education member Dale
Klosterman and his accountant son Doug presented charts, graphs and
transparencies showing declining enrollment and increasing salaries/benefits throughout
"2003 expenditures include 81 percent in salaries and benefits for
the staff. As salaries have gone up, the number of students have gone down. So, yes, Fred
is right it is costing more per student," Doug Klosterman told the audience. Franklin
Earlier Wiswell had shown per pupil expenditure at Franklin at $8,350
this year, the highest by almost $1,000 per pupil in the entire district.
At the end of his presentation, Dale Klosterman asked the board to
review alternate considerations, such as using West and Franklin to capacity and using
East elementary for overflow and to house a consolidation of special programs and Head
"There are also alternatives for Franklin residents if the school
closes. We can send our kids to Coldwater, St. Henry or Marion Local through open
enrollment, and still have a (Celina district) voice at the polls. And, believe me, we'll
never pass another school levy," Dale Klosterman said.
Several Franklin school parents spoke emotionally of their despair at
losing their school, among them Roger Cooper, general manager for a company in Portland,
Ind. and a newcomer to Franklin district.
"We've lived a lot of places with my job and I'm originally from
Findlay. But we chose this area because of Franklin. There's room for a lot of new
families out there, but the school is a big reason why young families come. And, the
teachers at Franklin are great. In fact, instead of closing the school, you should give
them a damned raise," Cooper told the board.
Board members concluded the meeting amid shouts and turbulence from the
disbanding Franklin contingent. After the vote to close the school, the residents
immediately walked out of the meeting, while board members tried to continue their
"I truly understand their feelings at losing their school. I hope
when the emotion settles we can work through this transition together," Wiswell said
following the meeting.
State may take over Celina schools in year
By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
Celina City Schools are about a year away from the state taking over
control of the school district if the budget and levies keeping going down, school
officials announced at a meeting Monday night.
Big cuts, including closing Franklin Elementary School in Montezuma,
are a done deal as board of education members on Monday night approved budget reduction
plans to reduce the district's projected $1.5 million deficit for next year.
And more cuts, notably the elimination of all athletic activities, are
coming if voters fail to pass both May ballot issues, also approved by the board Monday
Plan A, which includes closing Franklin, taking one bus off route,
reducing the number of summer maintenance employees, substitute teachers, book fee
subsidies, office staff and service days, is a definite. Plan A reductions will save an
"Yes, these reductions will take place whether or not the district
gets more money," District Superintendent Fred Wiswell told The Daily Standard.
If voters do not pass both ballot issues (a 3/4 percent income tax levy
for five years and a renewal of a 7-mill property tax emergency operating levy that
expires this year), all athletic activities and other extracurricular activities will be
eliminated as part of Plan B. The 7-mill levy brings in $2.253 million and the 3/4 percent
would bring in an estimated $2.25 million annually, according to Treasurer Mike Marbaugh.
In addition, Plan B includes eliminating 15 full-time equivalent (FTE)
teachers and an intervention tutor. Four more buses will be parked, book fee subsidies and
full substitute teachers will be further reduced to zero budget expense. Support staff,
such as maintenance, custodial, secretarial, educational and office aides, will be reduced
by seven people.
Plan B savings is estimated at $1,586,150.
If present trends continue (little success at the polls), the district
will realize an $8.7 million deficit in 2005, $16.8 million deficit in 2006 and down $25.6
If the district sees the $1.5 million deficit next year, the state will
come in and take control, Wiswell said at the Monday meeting.
Since 1977, voters have voted down 20 of the district's 35 ballot
issues for a 57.1 percent failure rate.