By Jill Gosche
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
Melissa Cimo (left), a third-grade teacher at Washington Elementary School, listens as fellow Washington teachers Lindsay Felske and her husband Mike read Tiffin City Board of Education agenda notes during the meeting Tuesday evening.
Tiffin City Board of Education approved reconfiguring grade levels but did not decide how Tuesday evening.
Members unanimously decided to reconfigure grade levels in a configuration to be determined and close two elementary school buildings effective with the 2012-13 school year.
They had considered putting all kindergarteners in a building, grades 1-2 in a building, grades 3-4 in a building, grades 5-7 in Tiffin Middle School and moving eighth-graders to Columbian High School. However, they removed the grade-level break-downs from the resolution before the vote.
The approved resolution also states the board will reduce expenditures by about $1.25 million effective with the 2011-12 school year and by about $1.1 million effective with the 2012-13 school year through staff and program reductions. The board also plans to ask voters to approve a new operating levy in November.
The board is to create a school consolidation task force if needed to help it decide which two buildings should be closed, a district transition team task force to help transition to the new grade level buildings and a curriculum and instruction task force to help move to the new grade level configuration.
The board is addressing a projected $3.3 million deficit as of June 30, 2013.
Superintendent Donald Coletta said the district is not going to look the same as it is now, and officials are trying to save as many programs as possible.
"We have to balance our budget," he said.
Member Randy Schwartz said he heard a lot about people's concerns with the reconfiguration and moving eighth-graders to the high school. He said he believed the board needed to do a reconfiguration but suggested other groupings so the board wouldn't have to move eighth-graders.
Vice President Kathy Venema said people have suggested the district have a K-1 building, a 2-3 building, a 4-5 building and a 6-8 building.
Coletta said one of the advantages of having a building just for kindergarteners is the option to keep all the elementary buildings in the mix when reviewing which buildings would be best for the grades. If the board opted to have two grades in each elementary building, it would eliminate the need to put eighth-graders in the high school but only three elementary buildings - Krout, Noble and Washington - are large enough to house two grade levels, he said.
The district would not need to have a school consolidation task force because the decision would be made which buildings to keep, he said.
Also, having a building devoted solely to kindergarteners would leave space for a preschool program if the district ever opted to offer it. Coletta said the district is paying more than $470,000 to other agencies to provide the required program.
President Chris Widman said the proposed configuration has advantages.
"We need to take a look at the broader picture," he said.
The board also discussed what it would take to keep the five K-5 buildings as they are. Coletta said the district can save more than $800,000 by reconfiguring them, and if the board kept the current structure, the district would have to find a way to come up with the money through cuts or additional revenue.
He estimated the November levy would be for 5.9 mills, and keeping the K-5 structure as it is would raise the total to 8.5 mills.
In other business, the board:
Heard committee reports.
Heard the Comprehensive Continuous Improvement Plan report.
Heard recommended new board regulations and recommended revised board policies and board regulations.
Approved the treasurer's report.
Accepted the resignation of Joy Shepard, effective at the end of the school year, and the retirements of Louise Ducsay and Marsha Bilger, effective June 1.
Approved contracts and stipends.
Accepted a grant and donations.
Approved an Ohio School Boards Association agreement.
Approved Northwest Ohio Area Computer Services cooperative Internet service provider contract for Internet service.
Renewed a memorandum of agreement for deposit of public funds.
Approved service agreements for professional development.
Approved employment of non-licensed individuals with pupil-activity contracts.
Entered executive session to discuss the employment of public employees and to prepare for negotiations. It did not plan to take action after the session.
The next regular meeting is 7 p.m. March 22 in Tiffin Middle School's cafetorium.