Columbiana board explains fiscal decisions

COLUMBIANA – A woman’s attack on the fiscal responsibility of Columbiana District Schools did not fall on deaf ears.

Superintendent Don Mook and the board of education listened as Wendy Pancake asked why the district spent money on improving the middle and high school gym floors and carpeting the lockers while the roof at the middle school falls apart.

Mook said after last week’s meeting the 13-year-old floors were past their minimum life expectancy, and he had hoped the $4 million bond issue voters rejected twice already could have paid for those improvements.

The district does not have any permanent improvement money and is relying on general fund money for facility upkeep at this point, he said.

During the meeting he mentioned there were several negative comments made about the floors over the course of the volleyball and basketball season, before they were repaired.

The floors were sanded and repainted using money from the general fund, which is the district’s operational fund and also where employee salaries come from.

Posey said that improving the interior of a building will extend the life of that building while fixing the roof alone won’t.

The district has not had a permanent improvement levy since 2003, when voters opted for an income tax levy instead, Posey said.

Mook said that of the 20 mills the district collects in taxes, 4.6 mills is directed for the repayment of the refinancing of the high school addition and renovations to Joshua Dixon Elementary.

“That loan will chew up those 4.6 mills over 20 years,” he said.

The district wants to replace the roof over the 50-year-old middle school building and is continuing to seek the bond for that project.

It will appear on the Nov. 5 election ballot and will pay for repairs to South Side Middle School over 29 years if passed.

As a result of the 12.5 percent state rollback elimination included in the two-year state budget, the bond will now cost the owner of a $50,000 home $21.53 a year a $2.70 increase since the May 7 election, Mook said.

(The district is hoping emergency legislation introduced by state Sen. Joe Schiavoni will result in the rollback elimination not taking effect for school districts that had already approved tax levies for the November election.)

In the meantime the district is moving forward with having the roof patched. As a result a portion of the building has been closed for those repairs and students will be attending classes in the other half, with fourth and fifth graders moved to Joshua Dixon Elementary.

Mook and Posey did not offer comment on Pancake’s question about why raises were given to administrators when the rest of the schools’ employees were on wage freezes.

The board approved several personnel matters during the meeting, including:

– Twenty-three people for cashier, cook, custodian and aide positions.

– The resignations of Jim Bettura, custodian, Robin Stewart, L.P.N., Paul Cowan, elementary building manager, and Bobbi Bregar, cafeteria cashier.

– A recall from the reduction in force of Peggy Mills to the middle and high school custodian position. She will work four hours per day.

– One-year supplemental contracts for Heidi Cope, middle school maintenance, Amy Moreschi and Bonnie Steeb as prom advisors and junior class advisors, Brock Miller, ninth grade boys basketball coach, Dary Quinlan, seventh grade boys basketball coach and Andrew Whitmer, eighth grade boys basketball coach.

– Kaitlin Steeb, 9th grade volleyball coach, William Johnston, assistant varsity boys basketball coach, Michael Kenneally, girls basketball athletic trainer, and Wes Cross, 8th grade girls basketball coach.

– Twenty-seven people as substitute support staff and five people as volunteers.

– Amanda Moore as district concert accompanist for the 2013-14 school year.

– Twenty people as athletic department game help.

– Parental leave for elementary teacher Doreen Holtz for the 2013-14 school year.

– Janice Szari, speech therapist for approximately 15 hours a week, and Dan Bekar and Bob Spaite as part-time high school teachers.

– Moving Ryan Rohrbaugh, custodian, Nick Bacha, custodian, and Larry Baughman, aide, from probationary to regular status, effective Aug. 23.