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Popo to lead Walnut Township School Board

Vince Popo, center, will start his third term as president of the Walnut Township Local Schools Board of Education. He is flanked by new District Treasurer Jeff Beane. Beacon photo by Charles Prince.

Vince Popo, center, will start his third term as president of the Walnut Township Local Schools Board of Education. He is flanked by new District Treasurer Jeff Beane. Beacon photo by Charles Prince.

MILLERSPORT – Retired teacher and coach Vince Popo was unanimously elected as president of the Walnut Township Local Schools Board of Education Monday night.

Popo is starting his third term on the board. Board President Tom Cumbow nominated Popo for the post. Cumbow was unanimously elected to be vice president.

Popo thanked Cumbow for his service during a particularly difficult 2015. “You did a real good job weathering the storm,” he said.

Board liaison assignments were also made during the annual reorganizational meeting. They are:

• Staff Personnel and Finance: Carol King (continues as chair) and Karen Keller;

• Buildings and Grounds; Transportation Programs; and Maintenance: Cumbow (continues as chair) and Popo;

• Policy Development; Legislative Review; and Labor Relations: Cumbow (chair) and Holly Armstrong;

• Instructional and Curricular Programs: Keller (chair) and Popo; and

• Extra/Co-Curricular; Health and Safety: Armstrong (chair) and King.

Keller will continue to be the board’s liaison to the Ohio School Boards Association. Popo will be the student achievement liaison to the association.

The board will continue to hold its regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month. The meetings have moved from the elementary school library to the Lake Learning Center in the high school. The September board meeting will be held at the Fairfield Beach Property Owners Association clubhouse or at the Millersport Fire Department’s Fairfield Beach Fire Station. January’s regular meeting followed the reorganizational meeting. The board also held a short hearing on its 18-month budget beginning July 1, 2016, through December 31, 2017, before the reorganizational meeting.

During the regular meeting, South Bank resident Bob Myers urged board members to cooperate closely with the Village of Millersport and Walnut Township Trustees. He said the district’s recreational facilities should be open more to the public, suggesting open gym hours, an in-door walking track and an outdoors walking track.

“We’ve got to identify our niche and go after it,” Myers said. “We have a beautiful facility that is underused. Why is this place locked up so much?”

Superintendent Randy Cotner told Myers that he hopes to keep the new Laker Learning Center open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. school days.

“Those things are going to be addressed,” Popo told Myers. “It’s going to change, Bob.”

“People have to feel welcome and familiar with this facility,” Myers added.

In their reports, high school principal Jeff Stought said White Christmas provided food and toys to 31 families and just toys to two last minute families. More than 150 “thank you” fruit baskets were delivered to senior citizens.

This was the first year that the Millersport Firefighters Association directly collaborated with White Christmas. The proceeds from the Association’s 14th Annual Toy Drive were distributed by the White Christmas program.

Stought said the collaboration will grow for 2016 allowing White Christmas to help any family in the school district rather than just families with a student in the district. “It will be a much bigger project,” he said.

He and elementary principal Kim Yenni had some good news on enrollment. Three new students started at the elementary school on Monday and two started at the high school.

In his report, Cotner thanked board members for their service and welcomed Holly Armstrong to the board. He also emphasized that the 1.7 mill emergency levy that board members narrowly placed on the March 15 ballot is a RENEWAL. It will NOT raise taxes!

The district has had two five-year emergency levies for years, he explained. The 1.8 mill levy raised $258,000 per year; the 1.7 mill levy up for renewal on March 15 brings in $250,000 a year.

In 2014, board members decided to combine the 1.8 mill levy renewal with a request for seven additional mills. Voters turned down that combined levy, reducing district revenues and district property taxes by $258,000 a year. Cotner said property tax bills in 2015 should have dropped accordingly. Last August, voters approved a seven mill additional levy for a net revenue increase of 5.2 mills after factoring in the loss the 1.8 mill emergency levy.

Cotner said the district can’t afford to lose its last remaining emergency levy. Voters are being asked to renew it at no increase in taxes for another five years. In response to a question from Bob Myers, Cotner said the elementary library will be restaffed if voters approve the renewal.

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