By Janie Southard
Celina City Schools is offering an extra $15,000 retirement incentive to the first 10 eligible classified employees who apply for retirement.
"It's the same thing we did with our certified staff last year. Our goal is a savings in the general fund to open up jobs for younger people, and reward our employees for their service to the district," Superintendent Fred Wiswell told board members at Monday night's board of education meeting.
Classified employees, such as bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and others, must be eligible by April 1.
Eligible employees include those with 30-plus years retirement credit, either earned or purchased, with State Teachers Retirement Service (STRS), or 25 years retirement credit and at least 55 years old.
For classified employees who wish to retire with 29 years retirement credit, the board will purchase one year from STRS. However, these employees will not receive the $15,000 incentive. Buy-out amounts vary among individual employees. Wiswell said following the meeting that payment of the incentives will come from the severance fund and not the general fund.
"The severance fund is set up for just such things. And, the general fund will benefit if the board chooses not to fill the positions or fills them at entry level," he said.
Last year, seven of the 10 eligible teachers (certified staff) took advantage of the retirement incentive.
Coffers for the proposed new tennis courts are more than half full with $80,000-plus collected for the $160,000 price tag for the five courts.
With a few more corporate donations possible, Wiswell said it's close enough to invite bids. He added that no general fund money is involved in this project.
Tennis parent Cindy Piper, who has headed up the Buy-A-Brick fund-raiser for the five new courts, said it's possible groundbreaking could come as early as April with the courts ready by next fall.
"The courts will be open to the public, and we can use all the donations we can get, including small donations," she said. "We are determined to get our kids off the roads."
A student was killed in an auto accident last year as he was en route to tennis practice in Coldwater, since Celina schools does not have any tennis courts.
The new courts will be located just east of the high school. Although the construction will include electric and water lines, the courts will not be lighted initially.
Board members approved an enterprise zone tax abatement with Celina Tent for the company's new equipment project valued at $474,000 at its location at 5373 state Route 29. In return the school will receive direct payment equivalent to the taxes Grieshop would have paid on the new equipment value in lieu of taxes for 10 years.
Board members approved first reading on a number of state-required policies, including rules for student use of drugs and tobacco products.
The policy states a student shall not possess, use, transmit or conceal any alcoholic beverage, dangerous drug, narcotic, pill or capsule, mid-altering substance, drug paraphernalia, tobacco or tobacco projects including snuff or smokeless tobacco.
The prohibition applies at any time the student is under the jurisdiction of the school. Additionally, possessing or using look-alike drugs may also result in suspension.
Wiswell said he was pleased the program for those caught with tobacco products in school was a proactive consulting program on the first offense, rather than just punishment.
That program is TEG (Tobacco Education Group), which includes two four-hour classes on Saturday mornings.
The first offense brings three days at the Mercer County Alternative School and mandatory attendance in TEG. Failure to attend any part of TEG will result in a three-day suspension, and school officials will file a complaint with the Mercer County Juvenile Court.
The second offense brings five days out-of-school suspension and a complaint filed with the court.
The third offense bring 10 days out-of-school suspension with recommendation for expulsion and a complaint filed with the court.