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Athletic bond issue set for August ballot

Millersport – A $1 million bond issue to improve athletic facilities at Millersport High School is one step closer to the August ballot.

Early this year a community group asked school board members to place a bond levy on the August ballot. The group pledged to pay all the expenses for the special election and to promote the issue. The money will be used to construct an all-weather track around the football field, add permanent rest rooms, replace the football field press box and move the visitors’ bleachers.

Walnut Township school board members approved a resolution of necessity Monday night by a 4-1 vote. The bond levy will be one mill for ten years. It will cost an owner living in a $200,000 home about $61 per year.

Superintendent Ron Thornton listed some of the positives and negatives for board members. Positives include:

• Probably the only item on the August ballot;

• Project could be completed by spring 2009 allowing another class to use the new facilities; and

• Likely get better prices this fall.

His negatives were:

• Cost to community donors for special election could be $9,000 if it is the only issue on the ballot;

• August will be here soon so the community campaign needs to start quickly; and

• It is a new tax.

“This is truly a community effort,” Thornton added. “They truly want to do this on their own.”

Board member Faye Whitaker was the only “no” vote. I think it is a bad time to put it on,” she explained.

“It’s about the next 20 years,” board member Bob Slater said. “This will pay dividends that we don’t even foresee.”

“Let people choose,” new board member Vince Popo said. “We need to improve our athletic facilities…If I have my way, we would have soccer, wrestling and tennis.” Several members commented on how well the track team does with substandard facilities.

President David Brookover added that he believes the board should support the community’s request.

In other business Monday night, board members unanimously accepted the low bid of $99,999 from Dave York Sports to replace the home bleachers at the football field. Thornton had estimated the cost at $100,000. Four bids were received, ranging from $99,999 to $129,400. The current bleaches are a safety hazard.

Thornton asked for some guidance from board members after two district homeschooling families asked about part-time academic and activity participation. Specifically mentioned were band, athletics, and some math/science courses. He said the Ohio High School Athletic Association allows home-schooled students to participate in athletics, provided the district has a specific policy addressing it. Thornton noted that district home school parents are paying the same taxes as other residents. “I would like to pursue it with guidelines,” he said. “I think there have to be standards.”

Thornton expects more students will come in part-time for academics than athletics. The district would get some additional financial benefit from the state for part-time students.

There were no objections from board members. Thornton will review policies in other districts and will have something for board members at their May meeting.

Board members also acknowledged two retirements and accepted one resignation. John Woolard, junior high school math teacher, is retiring after 35 years of public education service with 18 of those years with Walnut Township. Peggy Rosser, elementary school cook, is retiring after 20 years with the district.

Donna Lawrence, who served as home-school coordinator since the position was created two years at the elementary school, resigned to accept a foreign assignment. Thornton said he originally questioned the value of the position, but is now “a believer.” The district will seek another professional social worker to help students with problems at home

Elementary principal Cheryl Thomson said 39 students have registered for kindergarten next year. She expects to present a detailed staffing needs report next month.

A father and daughter both supported high school principal Roger Montgomery. His contract wasn’t renewed last month but he will be offered a teaching position.

“He’s done a lot for my kids and my family,” John Harlow told board members. “Mr. Montgomery invested himself in his students,” Ashley Harlow, a 2003 graduate added. “That man has made such a difference.”

“This was a business decision,” Thornton told them.

One year contracts were approved for: Holly R. Caudle, Thomas E. Howard, Susan C. Moore, Leslie A. Osterman, Alison L. Picklesimer, Brett A. Prince and Adrienne M. Winders. Three year contracts were approved for: Sarah J. Arruda, Laura A. Phillips and Megan L. Terry. Five year contracts were approved for: Sharon L. Cosby, Allison E. Davis and Gretchen L. Schroeder.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, May 12 in the elementary school library.

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