2013-02-16 / News

Casino check is a drop in the bucket for district

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - If anyone thought casino money would help turn around a deteriorating financial future for Walnut Township Local Schools, Treasurer Kirk Grandy burst that bubble Monday night.

He told school board members that the district got its first allocation from casino profits at the end of January. The check was for $12,294.42 - a little less than half what the district had expected last summer. Grandy also told board members that district income tax collections as of the January payment were down $25,000 from last summer’s estimate and down $10,000 from collections at this point last year. “It could be a little less than anticipated,” he said. A board member asked about delinquent real estate taxes owed the district. Grandy said that’s about $400,000.

In his report, Superintendent Dale Dickson said Leah Holden is heading up the Citizens for Quality Education campaign to replace the district income tax. Voters are being asked for the second time on May 7 to replace the expiring 10- year 1.25 percent income tax with a 10-year 1.75 percent income tax. The original tax was 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. The replacement income tax would only be assessed on earned income, self-employment income and partnership income to give “a break to those on fixed incomes.” Both taxes would raise about $1.2 million a year for operating expenses. The higher rate is required to maintain the current income since it will be assessed on a smaller tax base. The group’s kickup meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, at the Olde Canal Restaurant in Millersport. More volunteers are needed. Contact Holden at leahruthholden@gmail.com or call the district office at 467-2802.

Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen and Lt. Tim Voris were present to talk about a possible school resource officer. Phalen acknowledged that affordability is an issue. He suggested that a shared officer might be an option. A special duty officer at a bank in Carroll is shared with Amanda Clearcreek and the Village of Amanda. Phalen thought a similar cost sharing arrangement between the school district, Walnut Township and possibly local businesses might be an option here as well. The officer would be at the school in the morning and at the end of the school day.

Voris told board members it is important to communicate what is being done to keep students safe. He encouraged them to listen to the voices of reason and experience. “I know finances are tough on everybody.”

Dickson said the district’s Security Core Committee will review the resource officer proposal, quotes for electronic locks/intercoms for the two main entrances to the schools and other proposals to improve safety for students and staff first before bringing recommendations to the full board. Members Carol King and Vince Popo represent the board on the committee which includes Dickson, both principals and athletic director Randy Cotner.

Maintenance/Transportation Supervisor Mike Washburn said the district’s new school bus has arrived. The new bus #3 will go into service once a radio and cameras are installed.

Board members also approved two supplemental contracts:

• Steve Mohler as school play director; and

• Alan Sharp as assistant high school track coach.

Millersport Elementary School Principal Angie Harrison said kindergarten registration started Feb. 11 and continues for three weeks. Parents can register children on school days between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Evening registration is available from 4 - 7 p.m. on Feb. 21 and Feb. 28. An original birth certificate, Social Security card, proof of residence and an immunization record is needed for registration.

She also urged board members to spread the word about the school’s application for a $10,000 Make a Difference grant NBC4. On-line voting continues through March 7. One vote per IP address can be registered daily at www.NBC4MakeADifference.com or via FaceBook by searching NBC4, then clicking on the Make A Difference logo.

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