Vandalia-Butler to close elementary school

Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 6:54 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 6:54 PM

Vandalia-Butler City School District officials announced Tuesday they will close Murlin Heights Elementary School regardless of whether voters approve an additional 6.99-mill levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The earliest the 60-year-old school on North Dixie Drive would close would be next school year. It is part of the second phase of the district’s two-year, $7 million cost reduction plan, spokeswoman Bethany Reiff said.

This latest phase cutting $3.5 million follows early cuts totalling that amount announced in April.

Officials called the planned closure a “financial necessity” due to the high cost of operating the school for grades K-4 as well as additional planned cuts to teachers, support staff and administrators.

A second school that has not been identified also “could be closed” if the levy fails, Reiff said.

Superintendent Christy Donnelly could not be reached for comment.

Meegan Brady, who has three children in the district, including a 9-year-old son at Murlin Heights, was saddened to learn the news.

“To take it away completely, it shocked people,” said Brady, who volunteers at the school. She worries about the jobs of the staff and how the 406 students will be impacted. “Where are all those kids going to go?” she asked.

The district, which has about 3,300 students, plans to reconfigure district grade levels as part of the reductions aimed at balancing the budget. It provided a bullet-point list of what would happen depending on election results.

If the levy passes: $3.5 million would be cut and up to 15 positions of teachers, support staff and administrators eliminated. Busing that already has been reduced to the state minimum would be reassessed for 2013-14. There would be additional cuts to extracurricular activities.

If the levy fails: An additional $3.9 million would be cut and up to 60 positions eliminated. Student programs would be eliminated, compensation and benefits reduced and there would be $800,000 more cut from co-curriculars and athletics.

This is the third straight attempt by the district to get voters to approve a 6.99-mill operating and permanent improvement levy, which would generate about $3.9 million annually. Two earlier levies were defeated in November 2011 and last month.

District officials first warned voters last November that failure would result in $7 million in cuts. The first wave, identified in April, involved eliminating 32 positions, including 13 teaching positions. The district laid off 22 people.

Administrators said at that time the cost reductions were necessitated by a budget deficit of $18.3 million that resulted from $10.5 million in state funding cuts and a $7.8 million loss in property taxes.

This latest phase of reductions calls for reconfiguring district grade levels, likely next school year, in an effort to manage large class sizes.

Reiff said the reconfiguring “will definitely occur whether or not the levy passes” but said officials will not make a decision on what it would look like until there is more certainty about the budget.

Today, the district has 33 fewer teachers, 6.5 fewer administrators and 19 fewer support staff than it did in 2009, officials said. Remaining employees have taken a pay freeze and pay more for insurance.

Murlin Heights Principal Connie Strehle said it was sad receiving the news that the school she has led for a decade will be closing its doors for good after this school year.

“We were sad but we also realize we have a job to do this year,” she said. “We are going to provide our students with the best education we can.”

Northmont identifying students with special needs

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 2:46 PM

Casey Laughter

The Northmont City School District is conducting an awareness campaign in accordance with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), the Ohio revised code and the State Board of Education’s rules for the education of handicapped children.

»Related: Northmont hires two assistant principals

Each public school district is working with the Ohio Department of Education to identify children with disabilities, birth age through 21, who may need of special education services. 

Disabilities can range from autism, deaf-blindness, hearing impairment and learning disabilities, among others. 

»Related: Vandalia-Butler approves new teacher contract

When a child is suspected of having a disability, the parents are contacted and informed of their rights by IDEA and arrangements are made with the parents to evaluate the suspected disability. 

Questions regarding Child Fund should be directed to Student Services at Northmont City Schools at 937-832-5036.

Village recognized for electric reliability

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 2:42 PM

The Village of Yellow Springs has received a national recognition for achieving exceptional electric reliability in 2016.

The recognition comes from the American Public Power Association, a trade group that represents more than 2,000 not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities. 

The Association helps members track outage and restoration data through its subscription-based eReliability Tracker service, then compares the data to national statistics tracked by the U.S. Energy Information Administration for all types of electric utilities.

Northmont hires two assistant principals

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 12:01 PM

Casey Laughter

The Northmont Board of Education unanimously approved two new high school administrators on April 24. 

Teresa Dillon, who served as Academy principal at Springfield High School, was appointed as an assistant principal at Northmont High School. 

» Related: Junior high student told get haircut or get suspended

Eric Hughes, who served as elementary school principal with Franklin Monroe Local Schools, was appointed an assistant principal at Northmont High School. 

Dillon and Hughes will be taking the positions left vacant by Jason Inkrott’s appointment to high school principal and Greg Behrens’ retirement.

Vandalia-Butler approves new teacher contract

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 11:49 AM

The Vandalia-Butler Board of Education approved a new master contract with teachers and staff during its April 25 meeting. 

The Master Agreement between the Board of Education and the Vandalia-Butler Education Association (VBEA) runs for three years through June 30, 2020. 

» Related: Vandalia Schools Superintendent Neavin to retire

The contract will include a pay raise. The base salary of the contract for certificated staff, or teachers, was set at $37,853 which represents a 2.9 percent increase over the previous agreement. The base salary will increase 2 percent annually in each of the final two years of the contract.

» Related: Vandalia-Butler schools renew bus contract

The salary schedule increases with experience and education, as the base salary is the entry salary of a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no years of experience.

The contract was also ratified by the VBEA at a 98 percent approval rate, with 166 votes in favor and 3 opposed. 

The new contract also adds an attendance bonus for teachers and staff. Full-time employees can earn up to $800 per year for perfect attendance over the course of an entire school year. Those missing just one day of the year can earn up to $500. Part-time employees can earn half of those amounts.

The incentive will be reviewed during the 2019-20 school year to determine if attendance has improved as a result of the incentive and whether to continue it.

The Board of Education approved the contract unanimously on a 4-0 vote.

» Related: Vandalia student receives recognition from fire department

Superintendent Brad Neavin said the contract is fiscally conservative and praised the VBEA for understanding fiscal realities.