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.”

Waynesville moving forward with $26M in community development

Published: Friday, December 01, 2017 @ 7:25 AM


            Funds from a bond issue and the Ohio School Facilities Commission will be used to turn the 1915 Building, a former school building, into a community center.
Funds from a bond issue and the Ohio School Facilities Commission will be used to turn the 1915 Building, a former school building, into a community center.

The Wayne Local Schools plan to begin issuing bonds in December financing more than $26.5 million in community development.

Funds from a bond issue and the Ohio School Facilities Commission will be used to build a new Waynesville Elementary School, turn the 1915 Building, a former school building, into a community center and improve parking and other infrastructure on the Wayne Local Schools’ complex off Dayton Road.

Voters passed a 4.68-mill, 37-year bond issue by eight votes, according to final results tallied in Warren and Greene counties.

“The results of this ballot were very close. We appreciate our supporters and respect those who chose to vote no. In the end, we are a community which is a vital part of a truly successful school. We will work together to make this vision a reality and one that everyone can be proud of,” Superintendent Patt Dubbs said in a statement.

The school district can move forward, now that results of the Nov. 7 election are official.

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

The results were 1,241-1,234 result in Warren County and 11-10 in Green County, according to the county election boards.

MORE: Races too close to call in area counties

Election night tallies were 1,226 to 1,225 in Warren County, 11 to 10 in the small piece of the district in Green County- leaving only a two-vote margin.

Recounts were also held in races for Deerfield Twp. trustee and Franklin Board of Education.

Follow Lawrence Budd on Twitter

The results showed Lonnie Vestal defeating Bill Lantry 2,224-2,197 in the race for a seat on the Deerfield Twp. Board of Trustees.

And in a race for the Franklin school board, Bob Knipper was elected over Dennis G. Dwyer, 1,371-1,363.

DPS board member’s critiques not in Superintendent Corr’s evaluation

Published: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 10:47 PM

DPS board member’s criticisms taken out of Corr’s evaluation

Attorneys for embattled Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Rhonda Corr said she only had good reviews from the board.

>> Corr’s attorney’s strike back, say board’s allegations are weak

But one board member said it’s not entirely true. John McManus said he had objections in October to the board’s glowing evaluation for Corr. 

She was placed on paid leave last week amid allegations she was sleeping during contract talks, berated administrators and received death benefits for a domestic partner while legally married to someone else.

>> Superintendent gets glowing evaluation from Dayton school board

McManus said he wrote early drafts of Corr’s review that were more balanced. It graded her as “meets expectations” in most categories, but graded her lower in personnel management.

However, his critiques were not included in the evaluation presented to Corr, whose attorneys said she had no idea the board had problems with her.

Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Rhonda Corr

“There was a performance evaluation that was submitted by the committee on Oct. 3 that applauded Rhonda Corr for changing the fundamental structure of the Dayton School systems,” lawyer Jon Paul Rion said during a Wednesday news conference.

>> What Dayton school board said about new superintendent

Last month, McManus said he was displeased with the final evaluation. His draft states Corr needs improvement following through on commitments, accepting responsibility and not blaming others. It also lists needing improvement cooperating with opposing views, mediating disputes, being alert to sensitive issues, and seeing the big picture.

While McManus’ negative comments were not included in Corr’s evaluation, several of those concerns are now the focus of Corr’s pre-disciplinary hearing.

McManus said Wednesday he was unable to say more about the hearing.

“I really wish that I could speak on the record about some of these things but the board has been asked to withhold comment on the current situation and I have to honor that as a member of the board,” he said. “But what I will say though is that I stand by every single word that I said to your network a month ago about the evaluation process.”

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.