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The Daily



06-17-03: Open enrollment given the go at Marion Local schools

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 2002-2003 policy.
    "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 said.
    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 the fall.
    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 per hour.
    - 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 agenda.


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