OF board listens to concerns of residents

OLD FORT – In its first meeting since the property transfer with Bettsville Local Schools, the Old Fort Board of Education heard several concerns from community members Monday.

Residents spoke during the meeting on topics including an increase in taxes and the name of the Bettsville building.

Old Fort resident Joyce Guth spoke on the tax increase both communities are to see.

Treasurer Jaime Pearson had said, upon the property transfer, taxes are estimated to increase $50 a year for Old Fort residents and $70 a year for Bettsville residents.

Guth said she was concerned because, at a February community meeting, board members said Old Fort taxes would not increase.

Pearson said Monday that the tax increase was due to the state’s blending of the two districts. Pearson said higher taxes are not to be levied untill next year and would not be added to coffers until 2016.

She said state and county auditors still must determine the exact amount of the increases.

In another matter, Old Fort Local Schools Superintendent Steve Anway said the Community Committee met and discussed calling the Bettsville building “Old Fort Local Schools, Bettsville Elementary.”

“Nothing is set in stone,” he said. “The names the committee discussed were just suggestions.”

“The issue with the naming of the building shows that we all care for our school,” said board member Lindsay Sooy. “It is about our brand and having to have a proper ID for that brand.”

“Every day, something else comes up,” Anway said. “We have done a lot of planning for this move and so far the move has gone very smoothly. We are trying to be the best representation for the community as we can be.”

During the meeting, the board heard treasurer and superintendent reports.

Pearson is to be on a leave of absence from July 1 through Dec. 31 and the board appointed Cajon Keeton to serve as interim treasurer.

The board also approved supplemental contracts, employment contracts and resignations.

Twenty teachers from Bettsville were employed under similar contract lengths with Old Fort. In addition eight teachers were listed as reductions in force, including Greg Kohler, high school math teacher; Jane Hoke, administrative assistant; Donald Freeborn, middle school teacher; Ashley Pugh, fifth-grade teacher; Tom Hull, maintenance; Mary Smith, bus driver; Brittany Twigg, custodian; and Duane Hammer, director of transportation.

“We want to stress that these staff members were let go due to the blending of both districts’ lists of staff and were determined by seniority,” Pearson said.

Anway reported that Old Fort students met 22 out of 24 indicators on the Ohio Achievement Assessments. He also said the community committee is to transfer Bettsville memorabilia – including banners, trophies, posters and other historical items – into the weight room. Anway said class photos in the hallway are to remain where they are.

He said the board also entered into a three-year contract with the Old Fort Education Association.

Anway said important dates to remember include:

Aug. 5 – OHSAA athletic parent meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Aug. 12 – Community open house at the Bettsville building 5-7 p.m.

Aug. 13 – Community open house at the Old Fort building 5-7 p.m.

Aug. 13-14 – Student may pick up schedules, complete forms and pay fees 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Aug. 14 – Orientation for seventh-graders and new students at 6:30 p.m.

Aug. 18 – Meet the teacher night 4-6 p.m.

Aug. 19 – Teacher work day.

Aug. 20 – First day of school

In other business the board:

Heard committee reports.

Accepted donations.

Heard a special presentation for district track and field competitors Molly Cleveland, Adam Alexander and coach Tony Miller.

Approved funds to be established for the Class of 2018, Migrant Education Grant Fund, Special Education Grant Fund, Title I Sub A Grant Fund, Title 1 Grant Fund, REAP Grant Fund, Bond Retirement Fund, Maintenance Fund and Library Fund.

Approved contract with Sheakly UniService for workers’ compensation for the 2014-15 school year.

Agreed to have treasurer adjust entry of $16.65 to balance books to move forward with transfer of Bettsville territory.

Agreed to extend days in contract for LeighAnn King, high school guidance counselor, for 15 days to help facilitate with the transfer.

The board is to meet at 6 p.m. Aug. 11 in the high school library, 7635 N. CR 51.