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Board to discuss budget cuts Monday night

MILLERSPORT – Walnut Township Board of Education members will meet at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 19, in the elementary school library, to discuss budget cuts. The meeting is open to the public.

Members had a two-hour work session before Monday night’s regular board meeting. District treasurer Kirk Grandy had a bit of good news to ease the sting of the 628-352 rejection of the district’s proposed 6.9 mill additional levy on May 6.

Grandy said the district got a “bump in the reappraisal” primarily from CAUV (agricultural) values, bringing in $158,000 more this fiscal year than anticipated. Revenue from the district’s income tax was about $123,000 more than anticipated.

The district is already spending more than it takes in and has a projected deficit of $433,270 for fiscal year 2015 which begins July 1. That deficit grows to $1,491,599 the following year.

The additional 6.9 mills was expected to raise $1 million a year.

Board members unanimously took the first step toward putting a revised levy on the Nov. 4 ballot. This time it will be a renewal of an existing emergency levy with an increase. The levy up for renewal brings in $258,000 a year. With the increase, the levy, if voters approve, will bring in $1 million a year, an increase of $742,000. Grandy believes the increase will amount to 4.8 mills rather the 6.9 mills rejected May 6.

“It really is a 4.8 mill increase instead of 6.9 mills,” Grandy explained. That also means board members will have to find at least $258,000 in cuts a year.

Two lists of supplemental contracts, one for certified staff and the other for non-certified persons were removed from Monday night’s agenda. The positions covered by the supplemental contracts included band director, head football coach, head cross country coach, head and assistant volleyball coach, head girls basketball, football cheerleading, head golf, seventh grade volleyball and eighth grade volleyball.

The change in the agenda prompted fears that sports and extra-curricular activities will be eliminated to save money. “We want to take the fewest things away from our students,” Superintendent Randy Cotner said.

“Extra-curriculars are the last thing this board wants to cut,” board president Faye Whitaker added.

In his report, Cotner thanked the levy committee. “We gave it a good fight. The need is there,” he said. “We’ll be back. There obviously will have to be some cuts.” He added that they will try some new tactics with the issue in November.

Board members approved high school principal Jeff Stought’s retirement effective June 30. He is being rehired on a three year contract starting August 1.

Stought congratulated the girls varsity softball team for being the district’s first conference champion since 2002. The team won the Midstate League Cardinal Division and is seeded #1 in the Central District for the Division IV state tournament. Their tournament opener on Wednesday was rained out.

Stought also congratulated the high school’s Illumination Choir for winning the choir competition outright at last weekend’s Kings Island Festival. He said the Ohio State Highway Patrol will present a program on the danger from distracted driving at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21.

Stought thanked Buckeye Lake Moose Lodge 2434 for their ongoing scholarship program. The lodge has donated $28,750 to date, providing scholarships to 30 Walnut Township graduates. Students are selected on the basis of an essay describing their college goals, and their citizenship and leadership skills in school and the community. This year’s recipients are Brittany Budreau, Joseph Sammie Little, Abbey Heileman, Zach Budreau, Emily Fry, Sam Sherrer, Cassandra Holstein, Frankie Keller and Sara Rodgers.

Elementary principal Angie Harrison reported that so far the district has 30 new kindergarten students for next year. Five current students are being retained. Results from the second third grade reading test will be available in mid-June. There will be a third chance for students to take the test in July.

Board members approved a list of 41 seniors for graduation on Sunday, June 1. They also approved a resolution to join the Ohio School Board Association’s Small School District Advisory Committee. “They understand our situation,” Cotner explained. The group meets four times a year and there is no cost. Vice president Vince Popo will represent the board on the committee with Karen Keller as alternate.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, June 9, in the elementary school library.

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