'Good problems' for WR board of education

Stacey Hartley • Sep 7, 2019 at 11:00 AM

COLLINS — Western Reserve Local Schools’ board of education is back at it for another school year.

Board members learned North Point Educational Services Center (NPESC/North Point) administrators have the right to suspend WR students from their respective schools. Superintendent Rodge Wilson explained NPESC’s new authority status as a “formality,” largely due to the organizations’s legal counsel and board. 

“North Point still respects the expulsion to happen by the superintendent of the local schools, so I will still control that,” said Wilson. “You wouldn’t want someone to do something violent and not be able to protect the other students. That’s all; it’s a formality.” The superintendent added suspension periods can be anywhere from one to 10 days. 

Wilson said several classes are at full capacity.

“I’m very pleased,” said Wilson. “Kindergarten is full, first grade is full, 7th grade is full ...” in addition to intervention specialist-aimed classes.

“I hope I have your support,” Wilson then said. “Administrators did ask me to close (enrollment for) seventh and first grades ... And I just can’t do that. I just can’t do that. I can’t believe there’s not room for one more kid ... So, we’re going to have some conversations at a meeting Monday. 

“It depends on whose numbers you’re counting,” Wilson said in response to board member Peggy Weisenberger’s question about this year’s enrollment numbers. “I count the kids whom I'm responsible for, making sure they’re provided for. ... I want to say 1,079 versus 1,064 last year.” 

Also up in numbers are home-schooled children. “There is a very strong, organized group this year. I think that's just a reflection of the culture we’re in,” Wilson said, “We’re seeing a definite increase (in enrollment) across the board. ... So, these are good problems to have.”

Next the board discussed the school’s progress in regard to a possible levy for school/permanent improvement funds, which was discussed in a July meeting with county auditor Roland Tkach.

In order to have an item on the March/April ballot, the deadline for submitting levy items is in December. So far, the schools have recently put in a new phone system, copiers and other school-day administrative equipment this school year.

“This permanent improvement path, seems to be the path the group is most ... supportive of,” Treasurer Brett Robson said. “I just want to make sure we understand that in doing that ... (We) will still have some stresses on that general fund. 

“It would be nice to have some additional dollars come in there for us, and I think the things/projects we need outweigh other things... (So) we’ll continue to make things work as best as we can on the other end.”

The next area to focus funding toward are the buildings’ heating and cooling systems; with that, the board decided to bring in an area consultant to assess the life expectancy of the facilities. 

Robson then asked for a consensus from the board as far as officially requesting levy funds.

“I think we’ve proven that we’ve cut and done everything we can (and have been) for years,” said Jami White, the board’s president.

The next, best step they agreed, will be getting in contact with an entity experienced in levy-work processes. 

“We should let the community evaluate us,” Robson offered. “You know, ‘did we do the things we said we were going to do,’ and what’s next on the project list. ... And demonstrate those needs and demonstrate our ability to correct and improve on those areas; so, we’ll find a group to meet with board in a work session.”

The board’s next work session is scheduled for Oct. 2.

The board re-approved five food-service planning committee members for the 2019-20 school year: Margi Nickoli, Lona White, Karen Chaffin, Susan Miller and Anita Bolden. Wilson said they all expressed interest in doing work again, with Robson adding, “They all do a really good job.” 

Lastly, the board gave an update on the upcoming “cookout” slated for 5 p.m., Sept. 13.

“It’s not a cookout,” Wilson excitedly clarified. “It’s the 11th annual 2019-2020 Rough Rider tailgate extravaganza! And make sure you add that exclamation point,” insisted the superintendent, of the event he called his “baby.”  

“On the first home game at the pavilion, all employees, support staff — including North Point  — faculty, their spouses, children. We open up all the playgrounds, and have all the classic tailgate food, and our employees and their families just come and mix and mingle and just enjoy the first home football game (the new scoreboard should be up then) and the start of the school year.”

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