06-17-03: Open enrollment given the go
at Marion Local schools
|By MARGIE WUEBKER
The Daily Standard
MARIA STEIN - Marion Local Schools board of education wrestled one more
time with the matter of open enrollment before approving the policy Monday night for the
2003-2004 school year.
Smiles could be seen on the faces of six visitors and several heaved
sighs of relief when the issue passed by a margin of 4-1. The action clears the way for at
least 23 students from outside the school district who want to attend school at Marion
Local next school year. The majority come from the Montezuma area, where Franklin
Elementary School closed last month as part of a cost-cutting measure adopted by the
Celina City Schools board of education.
Marion received a record 36 applications for open enrollment, with 23
students definitely confirmed as coming in the fall. Nine have decided to go elsewhere and
parents of the remaining four have until June 30 to decide one way or the other. Last
school year, Marion had 13 open enrollment students.
Superintendent Andy Smith said the matter, which board members have
discussed repeatedly in recent months, basically came down to two sentences in the
"The intent of Marion's participation in the open enrollment
program is to accommodate students wishing to come to Marion within carefully chosen and
defined limitations. The philosophy guiding Marion Local's open enrollment program is to
accommodate transfer students within existing resources and to carefully adopt policies
which safeguard against expensive staffing, facilities and existing resources."
Board members addressed their concerns before the vote that came just
prior to adjournment. Greg Garmann admitted having concerns about the effect the
increasing number of transfer students might have on the school system. Charlie Otte, who
lamented the subject was "as clear as mud," reiterated the policy is one that
must be addressed annually and could be rejected in the future by new board members.
Tess Mescher, who cast the lone dissenting vote, explained her
rationale following the meeting. "I feel my position is to look out for the best
interest of the kids and to represent the community that supports the school," she
Mescher favors Marion's existing low student-teacher ratio,
particularly in the lower grades, because it provides a good foundation on which to build
an education. Additionally, all but one of the school district residents who shared
opinions with her were opposed to open enrollment, she said.
"I could not support open enrollment when it came to voting,"
she added. "However, I do accept the outcome."
The visitors, who gathered outside on the sidewalk to celebrate the
decision, declined to comment on the matter. Their children will be among those coming in
In the wake of disturbing news coming out of Columbus regarding
budget-cutting measures that impact school districts, the board decided to table action
placing an operating levy on the November ballot. School officials have until Aug. 21 to
file paperwork with the county auditor.
"It's not pretty," Smith said in reference to the hits
education is taking during the budget process. Waiting another month or so to proceed
could give the board a clearer picture of financial challenges the district will face.
Board members voted in January to place a 12.22-mill operating levy on
the May ballot, replacing an 11.83-mill levy voters approved in 1998. However, school
officials withdrew the levy after learning there would be no contested races in Marion
Township. Proceeding would have constituted a special election with a $6,000 price tag.
In other matters, the board:
- Heard Treasurer Paul Gagel explain ramifications of Senate Bill 95
(lowering tangible personal property taxes for business and industry), which would not
significantly impact school district revenue. The $110,000 figure constitutes 3.9 percent
of the school budget, with Marion Local ranking 560th out of 611 districts across the
state in the amount it receives.
- Discussed the possibility of adding a paper and ink charge to student
fees to cover the mounting cost of supplies used to print class reports and projects.
- Accepted the resignations of Martin Krick as junior class adviser and
Patrick Minnich as junior varsity baseball coach.
- Hired Leroy Piekenbrock for cleaning on an as-needed basis at $10.42
- Approved summer school teachers Kim Poeppelman, Abby Imwalle, Kelly
Koenig, Robin Garman, Trisha McMurray, Beth Parks, Lynn Giere and Kim Droesch for 30 hours
work at a rate of $20 per hour. Also approved at the same pay rate for 15 hours were
summer proficiency intervention teachers Tim Goodwin (math), Todd Ashbaugh (science) and
Patty Neff (citizenship and reading).
- Met in executive session for nearly 30 minutes to discuss
compensation for a regulated individual before taking action on the 17-item consent
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