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Published: Thursday, 2/23/2006

Edgerton votes to close middle school and lay off 6

EDGERTON, Ohio - The Edgerton Local School District will close its middle school, lay off four teachers, a secretary, and custodian, and reduce the hours of many more employees next school year, the board of education in this small Williams County community decided unanimously yesterday.

"We all wish we were not in this position, but we are," an emotional board president, Dan Clark, told nearly 70 people, many of them school employees, at the meeting.

The cuts reduce the board's spending for next year by more than $354,000 compared to this school year. That's a reduction of just under 5 percent of the district's $7.85 million operating budget.

The cuts are to remain in place even if voters approve the board's new 1 percent, five-year income tax request for operating funds on the May ballot.

The district already has a 1 percent income tax on the books. If voters OK the new request, their total local income tax rate for schools would be 2 percent - one of the highest in Ohio.

One school district has a 2 percent tax rate now, and Edgerton is one of four districts in the state asking for new taxes that would increase the rate to at least 2 percent.

If voters deny Edgerton's request in May, more cuts must be made, likely starting with extracurricular activities, Mr. Clark said.

Many of yesterday's cuts centered on the closing of the middle school.

Sixth-grade classes, which are now in the district's middle school, will be in its elementary next school year. And seventh and eighth-graders will be in the high school so the district does not have to heat and clean the 40,000-square-foot middle school that includes 12 classrooms, a library, gymnasium, and numerous smaller rooms.

It is possible for Edgerton to let the middle school building be empty because enrollment in the district has fallen about 13 percent in seven years. The district has 659 students, which is down by about 100 from 1998. And the district moved into a new high school last school year. The board estimated the savings in utilities and supplies alone from closing the middle school at almost $50,000 for next school year. Cuts to staff accounted for the other $304,000.

A teacher, custodian, and secretary in the middle school now will lose their jobs, as will a vocal music teacher.

Other cuts include:

●The high school family and consumer sciences, previously called home economics, teacher and a high school and middle school English and social studies teacher both will be half-time instead of full-time.

●A kindergarten teacher who now works half-time won't have a job unless the district has a large number of kindergarten pupils at registration time.

●All staff paid to work beyond the school year will see those extra paid days cut in half.

●There will be fewer art classes for elementary pupils.



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