Budget could bring better days for district

EAST LIVERPOOL -The city school district will fare better financially over the next five years than originally anticipated, provided a budget passed by the Ohio House of Representatives in April stands the test of time.

During this week’s school board meeting, members approved a revised five-year forecast presented by Treasurer Todd Puster which shows the district with health balances the last two years instead of the deficits predicted in the last forecast it approved.

Puster said that, in his 20-plus years as a school treasurer, he has never seen a budget that started in one position (as proposed by the governor) that changed so dramatically when considered by the legislature.

According to Puster, the governor’s budget “gives us nothing” in state funding while the House budget provides for an additional $1 million per year in funding.

“I can’t tell you how important that is to our district,” Puster told the board.

The forecast adopted by the board shows that, with the House budget, the district will see a $3.1 million balance in 2015-16 and a $1.9 million balance in 2016-17, compared to the $1.6 million and $4.8 million deficits previously anticipated in those years.

The board heard a presentation from Joe Mamone, owner of Scott Technology, a cosmetology school located in the former Traveler’s Hotel downtown.

He outlined the school’s beginnings in the 1960s in Wheeling and said he has spoken with career-tech Director Jay Kiger and other officials about providing classes for the district.

Mamone said the school has a 100 percent pass rate on the state board exams and that in 2011 84 percent of his graduates were placed in positions, with about half of the remaining 16 percent opting not to go into the business.

Board member Richard Wolf asked if the fact that contracts between the district and two other cosmetology schools had not been successful made Mamone reluctant to offer a contract, but Mamone said he has determined there is a strong need in the area for a school that has structure and good training.

Kiger said 28 students have expressed an interest and that Mamone offers a “first class operation.” He said a contract will be presented for the board’s consideration in the future with the idea of offering the course next fall.

Following a lengthy executive session, the board agreed to modify a student suspension to three days, with no comment offered. Wolf opposed the motion with no reason given. Member Robert Estell had been excused from the rest of the meeting prior to the executive session.

Also approved following the closed-door session was a memorandum of understanding with the East Liverpool Education Association addressing issues concerning the position of speech therapist/speech-language pathologist, with no comment.

Grievances filed by Gwen Croxall and Gene Hughes were denied by the board, which made no comment.

A settlement was also approved with the ELEA regarding a grievance filed over professional development, with the stipulations that working at concession stands will be excluded as professional development.

Board meetings can also be considered professional development, for which teachers will be paid, if teachers are asked to share information during the meeting or if the meeting they attend will include discussion of the addition or elimination of personnel or programs in their department will be discussed.

A memorandum of understanding with the state’s attorney general was also approved that will make it possible for district employees to be fingerprinted in-house with equipment already on hand.

An agreement was approved with C&C Garage of Lisbon for mechanical services to prepare school buses for inspection on an as-needed basis due to the district’s mechanic having surgery that will keep him off duty until August.

A number of personnel matters were passed unanimously, with member Scott Dieringer opposed to a three-year contract for Ronnie Peach as director of technology, replacing Candace Nicholson, who retired.

Dieringer questioned giving a new administrator a three-year contract, but Superintendent James Herring said that it has been past practice to give administrators such contracts.