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.”

Oakwood schools introduce virtual reality in science classes

Published: Thursday, November 16, 2017 @ 12:51 PM

Oakwood students and virtual reality class

Teachers at Oakwood City Schools are taking a new approach to learning that allows them to reach the corners of the earth from the comfort of a classroom. 

The seventh and eighth grade science classes at Oakwood Junior High School recently started using Virtual Reality goggles as part of their curriculum. The goggle, which work with Google Expeditions, allows teachers to create lessons taking their students anywhere in the world. 

Growing concern about 'juuling' among teens in schools 

Prior to introducing the new virtual reality sets to her students, teacher Rachel Keyes tested it on her own children. 

"I made them put the goggles on and got to see their reactions and I was like, ‘oh yeah, this is going to work,’” she said. 

When Keyes tested the devices on her students Thursday morning, they were just as excited.

“The students, as they're getting to look around at the sky and getting that full 360 panoramic kind of experience, it's huge," Keyes said. “It's different than a book. It's something you can interact with. You can feel it there. You can feel yourself being in that place."

This UD program was named Ohio’s best; it’s good news for business

Th virtual classroom experience was made possible by a grant from The Oakwood Schools Foundation. It was initially introduced to teachers during a staff meeting.

"Across the board in science, we always try to make things more interactive," Keyes said. 

2-vote margin: Waynesville anxiously awaits decision on $26M bond issue

Published: Wednesday, November 08, 2017 @ 8:15 PM


            A plan in Waynesville to build a new elementary school and preserve part of an old school in a community center hinges on passage of a 4.68 mill, 37-year bond issue on Nov. 7 ballots. It is too close to call still, with provisional ballots still to be counted. STAFF/TY GREENLEES
            Ty Greenlees
A plan in Waynesville to build a new elementary school and preserve part of an old school in a community center hinges on passage of a 4.68 mill, 37-year bond issue on Nov. 7 ballots. It is too close to call still, with provisional ballots still to be counted. STAFF/TY GREENLEES(Ty Greenlees)

A plan in Waynesville to build a new elementary school and preserve part of an old school in a community center hinges on passage of a 4.68 mill, 37-year bond issue on Tuesday’s ballots.

But with some ballots yet to be counted, unofficial totals on Tuesday left the issue undecided, showing only a two-vote margin of victory — a single vote in each of the Warren and Greene county portions of the district.

“We’re not celebrating yet,” said Superintendent Pat Dubbs while waiting to board a plane back from Washington D.C., where the existing elementary school was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School.

RELATED: See full results from Nov. 7, 2017 election

Passage of Issue 19 would: repay debt on bonds to be issued to finance more than $26.5 million used to build a new Waynesville Elementary School; use the facade of the 1915 Building, a former school building, as the front of a new community center; and improve parking, traffic flow and make other changes at the Wayne Local Schools’ complex off Dayton Road.

The 4.68-mill bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $163.80 annually for up to 37 years.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission is expected to give the district more than $4.5 million for the new elementary school project and other eligible expenses.

The local Mary L. Cook Public Library is expected to chip in money, as well as staff, for the community center, to include an auditorium and meeting spaces.

RELATED: MVCTC bond passes, Troy schools rejected

This could enable the school district to pay off the debt sooner, saving money for future property owners. Alternately, Dubbs said the library money could be used to improve or staff the community center.

According to the plan, the board offices would moved to part of the former elementary school that will remain after other parts, along with the current district office, are razed, once the new elementary is built.

The transportation building is also moving to the back of the complex.

The bond issue includes 1 mill for the community center project, preserving the 1915 building facade, based on responses at community forums.

“There was a desire to try and save that building,” Dubbs said.

The whole thing relies on passage of the bond issue.

RELATED: Issue 2 fails big; confusion blamed

Boards of elections in Warren and Greene counties still need to count provisional ballots and absentee ballots that arrive after Tuesday’s count.

Election night tallies were 1,226 to 1,225 in Warren County, 11 to 10 in the small piece of the district in Greene County.

When the margin is less than 0.5 percent, an automatic recount is conducted.

It is unclear how many provisional and last-minute absentee ballots were cast and how they will affect the results.

“The wild card is going to be these provisional ballots,” Dubbs said. “It’s looking like we may not know anything until Nov. 21.”

RELATED: 8 squeakers in Tuesday’s election that prove your vote counts in close races

In Warren County, there are 12 absentee ballots that were mailed out to voters in the Wayne Local School District that could still be returned, provided they are date stamped by Nov. 6, according to the board of elections.

At this point, no one knows how many of 326 provisional ballots yet uncounted would affect the issue.

The answer may be delayed beyond Nov. 21, when the board of elections certifies the results, if the final result requires a recount, Board Director Brian Sleeth said Wednesday.

In Greene County, the board of elections is to certify results on Wednesday, Nov. 22. A similar scenario could play out there, although fewer votes are in play.

Waynesville gets two shots at the state funds over 13 months, $4.5 million or 21 percent of the educational parts of the project cost, according to Dubbs.

MORE: Election highlights: What happened Tuesday?

So if the bond issue fails, the district is expected to come back to voters in the spring, perhaps for a lower millage not including the community center project, Dubbs said.

“We’ll have to come back if we don’t pass and make some decisions,” he said.

No punishment for staffer in incident with Springboro 8th grader

Published: Friday, November 03, 2017 @ 3:22 PM
Updated: Friday, November 03, 2017 @ 4:28 PM

Investigation underway into Springboro student's treatment after sitting for pledge

Springboro school officials decided Friday that no disciplinary action would be taken against a class monitor involved in an incident with a junior high student during the Pledge of Allegiance.

The eighth-grade girl remained seated for the Pledge, her father said Friday, prompting a reaction from the class monitor. Before school officials announced Friday afternoon that no discipline would be taken against the monitor, the father said school officials did a “very credible job” in their handling of the incident.

FIRST REPORT: Springboro student’s choice to sit during Pledge of Allegiance sparks investigation

“For her to stand for what she believes in, I totally support that as her father,” he added during a phone interview.

The father, who did not want to be identified, said he and his wife had discussed with their children the issue surrounding athletes kneeling during the National Anthem.

MORE: Local players join anthem protest

The issue stems from reactions around the nation and at NFL games since Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012, took a knee in protest of what he called police brutality involving black men and women killed by police.

Kaepernick is not playing this year, prompting other players to kneel in support.

“I guess she felt strongly about that,” the father said, adding the girl had been seated all year during the pledge at the beginning of each day at Springboro Junior High School.

In neighboring Lebanon, the school board emerged from an executive session last month to announce it would take no action after the school superintendent kept both football teams off the field during the National Anthem before a game to avoid problems, inciting a community debate.

RELATED: No discipline for Lebanon superintendent

The Springboro father said this was not the first time the school employee “had made comments to her for not standing.”

MORE: Fans react to report that Bengals players want Kaepernick

Scott Marshall, the Springboro schools communications director, said the study-hall monitor is a classified employee, not a teacher, and has worked for the district eight months.

On Thursday, the father said the monitor tapped his daughter on the shoulder as she sat during the pledge and tried to pull her to her feet.

The monitor “proceeded to try and grab her by the arm to have her to stand,” he said.

Marshall said officials had not heard that account.

The school principal walked by and the girl caught his attention, prompting him to take her to the school office and call her parents to tell them “my daughter had not done anything wrong at all,” the father said.

Follow Lawrence Budd on Twitter

“At a minimum,” he said his family hoped the monitor would be reprimanded.

“This is a country that is established on freedom of speech,” he said.

On Friday, no students were at school, but the monitor was called in for a “formal discussion” with school officials, Marshall said.

Marshall said the class monitor touched the girl on the shoulder or back.

A relative of another eighth-grader contacted Cox Ohio Media about a claim of a physical altercation involving the monitor and an African-American student.

But the father said he did not know if the problem was racially based.

A Springboro police official said the department is not involved.

Jennifer Balduf contributed to this report.

Springboro forum tonight on substitute school levy

Published: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 @ 9:33 AM


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A community forum will be held at 7 p.m. today at Springboro High School on Issue 18, a continuing substitute 7.4-mill levy that would raise more than $7.9 million for Springboro school district expenses, if approved.

RELATED: Springboro, Beavercreek seek substitute levies

Superintendent Dan Schroer and Treasurer Terrah Floyd of the Springboro Community City Schools, as well as members of the Friends for Springboro Schools Levy Committee, will discuss the details of the issue in a presentation, then welcome questions or comments from community members about it.

The forum will be in the auditorium of the school at 1675 S. Main St., Ohio 741 in Springboro.

Under the substitute levy, the district would collect more tax revenue as new homes and buildings are constructed and the tax base grows.

But the bills of existing taxpayers should stay the same, barring a reappraisal or change by the county board of tax review.

The substitute levy would replace an existing levy expiring in 2018.

RELATED: Springboro plans to seek substitute levy in fall

In November 2013, Springboro voters approved the most recent 8.78-mill, five-year renewal.

It is currently levied at 8.38 mills due to the increased property valuation in the district since passage.

MORE: Schools seek levies for buildings, operations

For more information, email borostrong17@gmail.com.