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Friday, August 29, 2014
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Published: Monday, 7/7/2014

Strategic plan urged for Rossford schools

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Creps Creps
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The Rossford school district needs a strategic plan, and the board of education should assess how the plan’s goals are being achieved on a monthly basis, a board member has argued.

Beverly Koch made her remarks during a special school board meeting called last week to discuss the state auditor’s performance audit of the strapped district’s finances.

The performance audit, using data from the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 fiscal years, found the Rossford district could trim about $3.75 million from its annual operating expenses by eliminating 31 full-time staff positions, freezing pay, increasing employees’ share of health-insurance premiums, and adopting other cost-cutting measures.

Ms. Koch said the board was pushed into approving the audit two years ago by “a community that didn’t feel it was being heard” and because of the district’s lack of transparency and lack of public trust. The district, she added, was doing nothing to earn trust.

Superintendent Dan Creps said that he was not against a strategic plan. He described the performance audit’s findings as helpful but noted they were not based on the latest information and didn’t include cost-cutting moves such as the closing of Indian Hills Elementary School at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

Mr. Creps, who was not superintendent when the performance audit was authorized, said the district had done “an outstanding job” of closing Indian Hills and transferring students for the coming school year’s grade reconfiguration, in which students in prekindergarten through second grade will be housed in Glenwood Elementary and students in grades three to five in Eagle Point Elementary. Sixth graders will be reassigned to the junior high.

Ms. Koch said it was time for the board to make “an action plan” and “road map” and wanted to hold a workshop this month to discuss the the idea.

“It just seems that we are not moving forward,” she said.

Board member Dawn Burks said she thought a strategic plan would help the board, but colleague Jackie Huffman expressed misgivings. Mrs. Huffman said it was up to the superintendent and treasurer to say where the district should go, and “it’s up to us to say, ‘How can we support you?’ ”

On the subject of finances, Treasurer James Rossler said the district’s revenue was flat and projected to stay that way, but personnel reductions were starting to show up as savings. At the same time, however, the cost of special education and medical insurance was going up.

The district’s shrinking enrollment will “certainly lead to more reductions in staff in the future,” Mr. Rossler said.

The district has been draining its reserves to cover operating expenses and is projected to finish the 2014-2015 year barely in the black. Like other districts, Rossford has been coping with a significant drop in property valuations and Ohio’s phaseout of its tangible personal property tax.

When the discussion moved to the topic of a request for a new operating levy, Mr. Creps said that the district would not be able to offset its revenue losses through cost-cutting. The 12 years the district had gone without asking for additional operating funds was “a phenomenal record,” he said. “That’s something the board needs to consider.”

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-724-6095.



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