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The Daily



10-21-03: Celina school board approves deficit forecast with need for levy

• State cuts funding by $2.6 million for 2 years
• Current enrollment declines by 150 pupils
• District voters may see tax issue in March


State budget cuts and declining enrollment will put Celina City Schools back on the ballot for additional money, probably in March.
The state-required five-year financial forecast, approved by the board of education Monday night, reflects a $2.5 million deficit in fiscal year 2005, which increases to a $6.9 million deficit by fiscal year 2006.
Superintendent Fred Wiswell said although the district has made budget reductions of more than $1 million during the past two years and the salary freeze on certified and classified staff for the current contract year will save the district another $300,000, it’s just not enough.
State budget cuts of $160,000 last year and another $2.6 million during the next two years plus the loss of more than $150,000 due to the loss of 150 students this year combine for a grim financial horizon.
Wiswell predicted these cuts and losses have the potential to “decimate the district.”
“The public generously stepped up last May and passed two levies, however, neither was an increase in funding. The district has not asked for additional local dollars since 1997,” the superintendent said.
Wiswell, Treasurer Mike Marbaugh and Business Manager Mike McKirnan have begun work on several funding options, which they will discuss with the board in a special work session on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Celina Education Complex conference room.
Board members accepted the resignation of Michael Bullock, the Head Start preschool bus driver who failed a random drug test and was terminated by the board at a special board meeting last November.
The Bullock termination is the subject of a civil lawsuit filed in September by the board against the Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 457, after that union of classified employees filed a grievance over the termination.
The local union’s grievance states the termination violated two stipulated articles in the negotiated agreement between the union and the school board. One agreement article states a written warning before termination is required, and the second says drug use or possession cannot occur “in the workplace.” Bullock had said he failed the testing due to substances he used during the weekend, not while driving bus.
The path to Bullock’s resignation began Nov. 4, 2002, when he tested positive for marijuana in a random drug test. Shortly thereafter, board members fired Bullock and then the union brought in an arbitrator who determined Bullock should be reinstated as a bus driver and said the board had no just cause to fire him.
The civil lawsuit filed by the board’s attorneys requests that the arbitrator’s decision be vacated. That suit is still pending.
Upon accepting Bullock’s resignation at Monday night’s meeting, board member Matt Gilmore ascertained from McKirnan that there are “no strings attached to his resignation.” He was referring to Bullock wanting back pay, and McKirnan this morning said Bullock no longer was making that request.
Another resignation accepted by the board is that of middle school teacher and former district Superintendent Hank G. Smith, who plans to retire at the end of the school year.
In May 2001, Smith’s resignation as district superintendent, negotiated through his attorney, came with an agreement that he would serve as a teacher and still collect his superintendent’s salary — $290,000 during a three-year period.
Since he stepped down in May 2001, Smith has served as a teacher at Celina Middle School. His salary this year is $98,942.
Board President Cindy Piper said the board appreciates Smith “letting the board know early his plans to retire.”


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822