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05-14-03: Record number apply to attend Marion district
| Coldwater board to lease school in Montezuma |

The Daily Standard

    MARIA STEIN - The Marion Local school district appears to be the place for the children of disgruntled Franklin Township parents.
    Marion Local school officials have received a record-high 34 applications thus far seeking open enrollment, most of them from parents in the Franklin Township/Montezuma area. There has been considerable interest in open enrollment since the announcement that Celina's Franklin Elementary School in Montezuma would close at the end of the current school year. Celina closed the school due to decreasing enrollment and budget reductions.
    Superintendent Andy Smith reported at a Tuesday board of education meeting that applications will be accepted through the end of the month, meaning the numbers could climb even higher.
    "These are applications we did not have last year at this time," he said. "I have heard that 10 students may not come after all, but that still leaves 24 at this point."
     Marion Local currently has 13 open enrollment students, with one graduating and three moving into the district, no longer qualifying them as open enrollment.
    The board is required to take action on whether to permit open enrollment each year. Recently, the decision has been tabled several times with the vote scheduled to take place at the June meeting.
    The delay has allowed school officials time to get a better idea of how many families wish to enroll children at Marion Local.
    Visitor Shelly Bruns of Maria Stein posed several questions to the board, adding she had heard conflicting information on the topic. In response to her questions regarding space considerations, board President Greg Garmann and Smith agreed there would be room for additional students in some classes.
    Board policy says class size in grades K-4 can be a maximum of 23 students. The desired number is no more than 25 in the upper grades. Smith explained there could be problems with the incoming eighth-grade class, which currently has 96 students in four sections.
    "Four applications are for next year's eighth grade," he said. "That would push enrollment to the 25-student level in those four sections."
    Board member Ron Winner noted the nine open enrollment students would be given first consideration. In the event the board decides to close enrollment like other area districts, the nine might have the option to continue at Marion on a tuition basis.
    Theoretically, the district could take 120 students in grades K-8 and 103 in grades 9-12 if each class was filled to capacity. Enrollment currently stands at 981.
    "We could take that many in theory," Garmann said. "How-ever, that is not our philosophy at this point."
    The Marion Athletic Boosters have proposed building a 30-by-70-foot concession stand near the new track. The boosters plan to secure a loan to cover the cost of the building as well as underground infrastructure. Permission was granted to proceed to the planning stage for the structure that also will provide needed storage for track equipment.
    With three teachers retiring at the end of the current school year, the board hired two replacements - Shannon Painter as high school art teacher and Ashley Boothe as high school Spanish teacher. Both received one-year contracts.
    In other action, the board:
    - Granted a one-time 5 percent pay increase for the head cook and head maintenance person with a review in four years.
    - Adopted a new pay scale for non-certified employees reflecting a 3 percent increase for the 2003-2004 school year.
    - Hired Larry Bruggeman on an as-needed basis to assist with grounds maintenance at the rate of $7 per hour.
    - Approved the hiring of summer custodial employees Russell Moeller, Eric Schroeder and Erin Puthoff at $5.15 per hour and Doug Giere at $5.30 per hour.
    - Employed Treva Fortkamp and Kathy Sowers for summer physical education classes at the rate of $20 per hour for 671/2 hours each.
    - Revised the five-year forecast to include a $48,938 decrease in state funding this year alone. The $37,000 increase in real estate taxes does not offset the loss of state dollars.
    - Received copies of a proposed Disaster Recovery Plan covering school records - both electronic and paper. First reading of the policy, which is similar to that implemented by other area school districts, will take place at the next meeting.
    - Discussed offering an athletic trainer course for a half credit next year. More than 30 students have signed up thus far. Beginning the class at 7:30 a.m. is expected to reduce the number of enrollees.
    - Took no action on a professional travel request from Sowers to attend an out-of-state sports and fitness workshop. Board members questioned the educational value of the program. The request consequently died for lack of a motion.
    - Rescheduled the next two board meetings to June 16 and July 14. Both sessions begin at 7:30 p.m.

Coldwater board to lease school in Montezuma
The Daily Standard
    It's a done deal, signed and sealed. Celina and Coldwater school officials have signed a two-year lease for the Franklin elementary building in Montezuma.
    At a special meeting of the Celina City Schools board of education Tuesday afternoon, board members voted to accept the lease, which was signed by Coldwater school officials on May 2.
    Maintenance and repair of the building were the last items to be resolved between the two schools. Responsibility for any major structural repairs and improvements will be determined by each school when and if it becomes necessary.
    Celina board members decided earlier this year to close the Franklin elementary school at the end of the school year, due to decreasing enrollment and budget reductions. Coldwater officials then offered to lease the Franklin building while the Coldwater school facilities are undergoing major renovations.
    Coldwater will assume sole expense to keep and maintain the building in sanitary condition and repair. It will also clean the school during the summers of 2004 and 2005.
    Celina may inspect the building at any reasonable time during the lease.
    Total rent for the building is $264,000 payable in monthly payments of $11,000. Term of the lease is Aug. 1 through July 2005.
    Celina will pay gas, water and sewer utility charges up to $32,000 per year, with Coldwater responsible for all over that amount and telephone service as well as all charges relating to the data wireless system and for snow removal.
    If Coldwater wants to stay in the building longer than the lease provides, both districts will come to terms on a month-to-month arrangement.
    Celina Superintendent Fred Wiswell pronounced the transaction a "viable option for the use of the building" and board President Cindy Piper called it "a win/win for both districts."
    District Business Manager Mike McKirnan, Brian May of Fanning/Howey Associates, Celina, and property owner Floyd Heiby investigated drainage problems affecting Heiby's fields along Ohio 29, west of Celina West Elementary School.
    "We're involved because we were the last construction in that area, but it isn't necessarily our problem," McKirnan told board members.
    Fanning/Howey's design of the building provided for an area to hold water long enough that it wouldn't flood nearby fields, such as Heiby's. However, McKirnan pointed out that drainage water to those fields along Ohio 29 comes from a variety of places, some as far away as the fairgrounds.
    "The city okayed our plans when the school was built and the county agreed. Our goal was to keep the area drainage the same as it had been before we built," McKirnan said, adding Fanning/Howey and Celina city officials are studying the problem and the solution.
    Board members accepted resignations from four employees (Heather Henry, Lisa Weinbrecht Schrock, Jamie Schlotterer, Farrah Montague) and approved a certified job share request (Jennifer Dippold and Lori Speck).
    Wiswell said the board's action would allow him to inform Franklin teachers this week of their assignments for next school year. Wiswell said only one teacher, at the bottom of the seniority list, currently does not have a position for next school year. Wiswell said there is no indication at this time that any position is available.
    "But it's really too early to tell," he said.


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P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822