By Charles Prince
HEBRON – Last month, Lakewood School District Treasurer Glenna Plaisted detailed casino gambling’s impact on Lakewood’s income from the state.
Plaisted said Ohio voters authorized four casinos via a constitutional amendment (Issue 3) in 2009. The Cleveland and Toledo casinos opened first in May 2012 with the Hollywood Casino in Columbus opening October 2012. The final casino in Cincinnati didn’t open until March 2013.
Video slot machines were authorized in 2010 at seven horseracing tracks or racinos. The first racino opened in June 2012 at Scioto Downs followed by Thistledown in April 2013, Northfield Park and Miami Valley in December 2013, Belterra Park in May 2014, Dayton Raceway in August 2014 and Mahoning Valley in November 2014.
A portion of the casinos’ profits was pledged to support public education. Every public school district in Ohio gets a bi-annual payment (January and August) based on the level of casino profits in Ohio. These payments depend on the level of play at casinos. Here’s Lakewood’s direct casino revenue by fiscal year (fiscal years run from July 1 through June 30 of the following year):
- FY 13: $41,839
- FY 14: $99,107
- FY 15: $94,928
- FY 16: $94,238
- FY 17: $95,274
- FY 18: $98,132
- FY 19: $98,467
Plaisted said the recent $98,000 per year revenue works out to about $51 per student. She added that casino profits also flow to school districts as part of the state’s basic support (foundation) of public education. However, this is not “new” or “extra” money for districts.
Plaisted said she wants voters to know that casino gambling only directly contributes an additional $51 per student per year to the district. While she acknowledged that $98,000 is better than nothing, Lakewood’s direct share of casino profits barely supports one teacher with benefits.
Lakewood’s March 13, board meeting included an excellent presentation from senior Abigail Smith on her evolving interest in computer programming. She recounted how helping her father build a computer from parts was her first exposure to computers. But her first exposure to programming in the sixth grade wasn’t so positive. Then in the eighth grade she was invited to join the high school robotics team and ended up on its programming team. She started learning computer languages and found she liked programming. Unfortunately, the robotics team disbanded for lack of a sponsoring teacher the next year, but Smith continued to take programming classes wherever available and to teach herself more languages. She said there were few girls in these classes which she attributes to a “fear of the unknown.” Without a robotics team, she turned her efforts to the Lakewood Drama website which she overhauled and is still its only administrator. Last October, Smith started an organization at the middle school using the Girls Who Code curriculum to get more girls interested in coding. Three 8th graders are part of the group. Smith was recently awarded the 2019 Ohio Affiliate National Center for Women and Information Technology Award for aspirations in computing. She hopes to attend BYU’s Hawaii campus after she graduates where she will major in computer science. Board member Bill Pollard told Smith she will have a very bright future when she completes college and returns to Ohio. Several other board members echoed his comments, adding that she would have plenty of job offers to consider.
The other students recognized for special achievements were Lakewood Middle School students William Kohut and CJ Reynard for their first place finish in the STEMfest at The Works, junior Macray Kester for being the American Legion’s Americanism Test winner, Olivia Ogg for setting the school record of 10 feet for the pole vault at the indoor state track meet qualifier, Braden Parker and Zach Cramer for their work on the high school” tech team and Civil Air Patrol member Garrett Thomas for his presentation to a Congressional committee in Washington, DC.
In other business, March 13, Plaisted reported that the Lakewood Band Booster donated music equipment worth $27,413 and sound equipment worth $4,474 to the district. Director of District Services Patti Pickering said the district has a continuing shortage of substitute bus drivers. “It’s been a struggle all over the place,” she responded when asked if other districts were having the problem.
Board members unanimously approved the resignation of Kindergarten teacher Michael Jay Schuh at the end of the school year; long term substitutes Mallory Scaife for Lauren Domenick and Randy Noftz for high school algebra/geometry; a three-way split supplement for Lindsey Fawcett, Candace Haudenschild and Ryan Bergemand for the high school STEM Club; coaching supplements for Don Thorp, varsity head baseball, Ruth Sunkle, varsity head girls track, Jerry Thorp, varsity assistant baseball, Chuck Davis, varsity assistant baseball, a three-way plit for Craig Less, Jack Carney-DeBord and Rick Grosse as freshman baseball coach, Tanner Ernest as varsity assistant boys track and Kathryn Raedeke as varsity assistant girls track; and volunteer coaches Johns Justice, freshman assistant baseball, Jerry Lyons, JV assistant baseball, and Elana Preston, as middle school girls track assistant.
Board members also unanimously approved a revised contract for the district’s two school resource deputies that allows, in the event of an “extreme emergency” for the Licking County Sheriff’s Office to tap live into the district’s video cameras’ feed. A resolution supporting Military Children and Families was also unanimously approved.
The board’s next regular meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, in the high school library.