Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Genoa schools approve cuts if levy still fails after recount

GENOA - The Genoa school board voted last night to lay off more than 30 employees, eliminate high school busing, and institute a pay-to-play system for sports and clubs as part of $1.23 million in budget cuts.

Board members said they had no choice after the apparent defeat March 2 of a 6.4-mill operating levy. Without added revenue or spending cuts, the district faced a $900,000 deficit by June, 2006.

"A million dollars is an awful lot to reduce," Superintendent Dennis Mock said.

Les Wyse, school board president, said the personnel cuts, which include three high school teachers, three-and-a-half elementary teachers, and a building principal, were painful.

"We know all these people," he said after the board's 5-0 vote to make the cuts. "It's one thing to say we're going to cut three high school teachers ... but I know who they are."

The district plans to eliminate 21 full-time positions and 12 part-time jobs.

Among the job cuts is the assistant principal's position at Genoa Area High School. Jude Meyer, who now holds that job,

will become principal at Allen Central Elementary School, and that building's principal, Mary Ann Widmer, will be let go when her contract ends at the end of the school year, Mr. Wyse said.

Mr. Meyer's move to Allen Central also will leave the high school without an athletic director. Mr. Wyse said the board would decide later how to handle that vacancy. The board eliminated more than a dozen coaches, and club advisers' positions along with the switch to pay-to-play, saving the district more than $170,000.

Starting this fall, students will be charged $120 for the first activity, $100 for the second activity, and $80 for the third activity in which they participate.

The issue lost by 12 votes, according to final results released last week by the Ottawa County Board of Elections. A mandatory recount is set for Friday. If the levy passes, "then this is all off the board," Mr. Wyse said.

Board members said they would discuss going back on the ballot with another levy at next month's regular board meeting.

Jay Miller, a district resident, urged the board to seek a smaller levy next time. "I'll tell you, a 3 [mill] a 4 [mill], it would have flown right through like nothing," he said. "But at 6.4, a lot of people can't afford that."

The board did rescind some planned cuts after reaching agreements with unions representing the district's teachers and classified staff.

The Genoa Area Education Association agreed to suspend its tuition reimbursement program, attendance bonus, and professional-leave guidelines in return for keeping an extra elementary teacher. The teachers also agreed to extend their workday from six and a half hours to seven to keep all-day, everyday kindergarten.

The district retained lunch monitors at the middle school and high school in return for OAPSE Chapter 462's agreement to give up uniforms for food service workers, bus drivers, and para-educators. The OAPSE unit saved a custodial post by agreeing that overtime would be paid for Saturday and Sunday work only if the affected employee surpassed 40 hours for the week.

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