2011-04-16 / News

Liberty Union cuts 12 jobs to offset cuts

By Charles Prince

BALTIMORE – There were no impassioned pleas from parents, students, fellow employees or unions Monday night.

Liberty Union- Thurston School Board members quietly and unanimously eliminated two teaching jobs, turned three teaching jobs into half time jobs and eliminated seven support positions. The positions eliminated were not vacant.

The reduction in force plan announced last month is part of the plan to cut district expenses by $500,000 next school year. Fifty percent of the district’s funds come from the state. Federal stimulus aid used last year and this year to maintain state aid levels accounts for about seven percent of district revenue. That revenue is gone for sure and Superintendent Paul Mathews and Treasurer David Butler expect an overall 10-20 percent reduction in state funding for next year. The details for the two-year state budget beginning July 1 are still being worked out in the state legislature.

Mathews and Butler opted not to wait around for the final answer on the state budget which could come as late as June 30. Both teachers and support staff have approved one-year contracts for next school year that freeze current salaries – no overall base or step (longevity) increases. Health insurance deductibles and co-pays were also slightly increased to offset cost increases caused by Obamacare .

Here are the specific reductions approved Monday night:

• The elementary school art teacher;

• A middle school classroom teacher;

• Turning three full- time teaching positions into half-time positions – high school family and consumer science, high school industrial technology and high school information technology;

• Five classroom teacher aides at the elementary school;

• One elementary school handicapped student aide; and

• One elementary school receptionist.

In addition, the position of assistant high school principal was eliminated. Monday night, board members unanimously approved a two-year contract for high school assistant principal Tim Turner to replace middle school principal Hank Gavarkavich who is retiring. A half-time elementary school reading specialist who is also retiring won’t be replaced. The school will still have two full-time reading specialists.

In other personnel issues Monday night, board members agreed to pay $10,712 as the district’s share for the district’s school resource officer. The Village of Baltimore pays one-third of the cost for the officer that is employed by the village police department and has obtained a D.A.R.E. for the other one-third. Butlr said the district’s share is about $300 more than last year.

Board members also approved Candy Berry’s resignation for retirement purposes. She is the high school family and consumer science teacher. She proposes to return to the district next year in the now half-time position. A public hearing on her request will be held in July.

Board members approved a long list of individual teacher contracts, including a three-year contract running through July 31, 2014 for Mathews at his current $110,995.56 salary.

Four supplemental contracts were approved:

• Ben Factor for instrumental music;

• Emily Fisher for high school vocal music;

• Natallie Brate for outdoor education; and

• Monica Mix as junior varsity softball coach.

Board members also took steps to comply with the recently enacted SB5. Among its provisions affecting public employees is one prohibiting public employers from making “pension pick-ups,” where the employer also pays the employee’s share of the required pension contribution. The district currently picks up the cost for the superintendent, treasurer, three principals, two athletic directors and the technology coordinator. Their salaries will be increased by the amount of the “pick-up” which they will now pay directly.

Board members also adjusted responsibilities on board members to account for Judith Cosgray’s replacement of Joe Farmer. Cosgray will replace Farmer on the Finance and Personnel committees. Mike Raver will replace Farmer on Labor Management and Shaun Hochradel will become the board contact for legislation.

Architect Joe Schappa updated the board on the high school renovation and new middle school construction projects. He said the high school passed the life safety inspection last month. Five of the six phases now have established start dates for warranties. The 12-month walk-thru for Phase 1 will be done this month. “There will be a whole series for another year,” Schappa said.

Work has picked up in some areas at the new middle school, he reported. But mechanical work is still falling behind. The original plan was to have work done by this coming August 1, leaving August as the “month of float” to fix loose ends, work out little problems and have an orderly move-in.

“ Now it is almost being consumed by finish work in the building,” Schappa said. He wants to get the finish back to August 1 to give the district time to properly move in. Part of the problem is that contractors know the current middles school is still available if the schedule isn’t met.

He reported that the flooring subcontractor walked off the job, before even ordering flooring materials. Luckily they have found sufficient material in stock to complete the floors.

“We still have to light a fire under some of the contractors and perhaps the construction manager,” Schappa added.

Plans are about 95 percent complete for the southbound turn lane on Ohio 158 into the elementary/middle school complex. He hopes everything will be approved by Baltimore Village Council at its May 10 meeting, allowing it to be bid immediately thereafter. He wants the new lane to be completed before school starts. Schappa hopes the new administrative building can go out to bid yet this week.

President Art Brate announced that the Village of Baltimore’s School Travel Plan has received $360,281 in funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s federal Safe Routes to School Program. The award doesn’t require a local match..

The plan was developed last year by Village Administrator Marsha Hall, Police Chief Michael Tussey, Mathews and Brate.

With the funding, sidewalks, a multi-use path and curb ramps will be constructed along the east side of Ohio 158 to connect the elementary/middle school complex with the rest of the village. The project is scheduled to be bid early next year with construction beginning when weather permits.

Co-students -of-the-month Jordan Bressler and Tristan Mooney were honored. Bressler, the daughter of Kay and Brett Bressler, is a junior. She is a member of FFA, Leo Club and FCCLA. Outside of school, she is active in 4-H and competes in English equestrian riding.

Mooney, the son of Nonon Mooney, is a freshman. He is very active in the music program playing in the marching, concert and pep bands. He is a member of the school’s Knowledge Bowl team that won the Mid-State League Championship and participates in the Model United Nations program.

Last month senior Tiffany Lawless was on the board agenda to be honored for being selected as a National Merit semi-finalist. She had a conflict so she was put on this month’s agenda.

Mathews said the delay was worthwhile since Lawless, the daughter of Robert and Anna Lawless, was recently named a National Merit Scholar, the program’s highest honor. Mathews aid about 1.5 million seniors start the selection process with about 16,000 being named semi-finalists and just 8,000 or so making it to the Scholar level. She plans to pursue a double major in psychology and musical theatre.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, May 8, in the high school library.

Return to top