2012-08-04 / News

Walnut Township Schools to seek replacement income tax

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - It’s official. Walnut Township Local School District voters will be asked to approve a replacement school district income tax on Nov. 6.

School board members unanimously approved a resolution Monday night that seeks to replace the existing 1.25 percent income tax with a 1.75 percent tax effective Jan. 1, 2014.

District voters originally approved the 1.25 percent income tax for 10 years in May 2003. The tax raises about $1.2 million a year for operating expenses. The original tax is levied on most income except Social Security, welfare benefits, disability benefits and child support. Its tax base includes interest, dividends, unemployment compensation, pensions, annuities, capital gains and alimony. The current tax will be collected through 2013.

“We didn’t have the option (of limiting it to earned income) back in 2003,” Superintendent Dale Dickson explained. That option became available in 2006.

The replacement income tax would only be assessed on earned income, self-employment income and partnership income. That “gives a break to those on fixed incomes,” Dickson said. The proposed 10-year replacement income tax will still raise about $1.2 million per year for the district. The higher rate - 1.75 versus 1.25 percent - is required to maintain the current income since it will be assessed on a smaller tax base.

In other business Monday night, elementary school principal Angie Harrison said the school’s preliminary scores from the state proficiency tests have it meeting nine of the 10 parameters. “We are effective,” she reported. “I’m proud of the teachers and kids.”

She isn’t proud of the school’s fifth grade math score which was the lowest in Fairfield County. Harrison vowed to turn it around, but noted the same teacher teaches math to sixth graders who got the fourth highest score in the county.

She told board members that due to the district’s small number of students, “Every child affects us more than anyone else.” At the junior/senior high school, principal Jeff Stought said each student’s performance is worth two percentage points. For example, just five students failing a state proficiency test would lower the district’s grade by 10 percent.

Stought said 30 teachers applied to replace Spanish teacher Ann Bowen who retired. Six were invited to interviews that included a portion conducted in Spanish by Bowen. He said the Spanish portion of the interview proved to be very revealing. Board members approved a one contract with Summer Montanez. “Ann brought our Spanish program a long way,” Stought said. “She (Montanez) is worthy.”

In other personnel actions, board members approved a one year contract with Jill Wiles as school nurse. She replaces Deborah Morehart who resigned after her husband took a job outside the area. Barbara Raynard received a one year contact as Special Needs Bus Driver; Amy Anderson received a one year contract as an educational aide to work with physically/medically health-impaired students.

Supplemental contracts were approved for Summer Montanez for Spanish Club and William Yates as senior class advisor. Dina Reasoner was approved as a volunteer advisor for the high school yearbook.

Board members also unanimously approved meal prices for the new school year. Dickson said the changes are “very minimal” and prompted by new federal nutrition requirements. “The average (increase) is a nickel,” he added.

Maintenance/Transportation Supervisor Mike Washburn said the bus inspections went well. Board members agreed to scrape, sell or trade three old buses. “There is no way they are going to pass inspections,” Dickson said.

Board members unanimously accepted Dickson’s recommendation to contract with Consult- A-Doctor. The program, which costs $4 per month per employee, allows employees and up to three dependents to consult 24/7 with a doctor on the telephone. The program’s physicians can prescribe medications over the phone if appropriate. Dickson said the intent isn’t to replace employees’ regular physicians, but to provide an option to start treatment quicker and to reduce office/urgent care visits. The program will cost less than $4,000 for the fiscal year.

Board members approved the revised junior/senior high student handbook by a 4-1 vote. Board member Vince Popo voted “no,” later telling The Beacon that he still doesn’t like how it addresses the requirement for two physical education credits to graduate. Stought added that the state doesn’t allow a combination of a waiver for participation in athletics, marching band or cheerleading or completion of a semester physical education class. “They have to do one or the other,” he said. Several members asked about the effect on a waiver if an athlete is injured during the season. Stought said an unable-to-complete injury in either a waiver activity or a physical education class would that credit. He said students need to start early on the physical education requirement to provide plenty of time to make up injurylost credits.

Athetic Director Randy Cotner said both junior high and varsity football started Monday. The rest of the fall sports start practice on Monday, August 6. Sports schedules will be posted on the district website (http:// www.walnuttsd.org) as soon as they are completed.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, August 13, in the elementary school library.

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