VWCS bd. looks at state budget, absences
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
Van Wert City Board of Education heard information on the potential impact of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s 2018-19 biennial budget on state foundation funding during its February meeting, while also getting a report on absenteeism during the past month due to a variety of illnesses.
District Treasurer Mike Ruen talked about the governor’s proposed biennial budget, noting that, while Kasich is touting a $200 million increase in the 2018-19 state budget, a decrease of more than $200 million is also likely because of decreases in funding from the tangible personal property tax (TPP).
Ruen said the TPP decreases won’t hurt the city school district, since Van Wert’s funding from that source is already at zero.
The treasurer noted that state foundation funding estimates for the district show a decrease of $5,542 in 2018 and flat-lined funding in 2019.
Ruen said that, while some districts whose ADM (Average Daily Membership) totals is down 5 percent or more will receive less funding, Van Wert actually saw an ADM increase of approximately 15 students. However, Ruen had an explanation for the proposed funding decrease in 2018 for the district.
Noting that the district had an increase in farmland valuation during the latest revaluation, the treasurer said he feels the governor used those valuation increases in deciding to cut foundation funding to the district.
“So, on paper, he apparently thinks we have more funds available, which isn’t entirely true, because of reduction factors,” Ruen said, noting that, because the district is above the 20-mill threshold, valuation increases from all but new development are scaled back to pre-increase levels. Basically, that means the district would likely see little, if any, additional funding from the higher valuation.
In addition, state transportation funding is being reduced 12 percent, Ruen said.
The treasurer noted that, while the district has received healthy funding increases the past four years, the higher funding basically restored money lost prior to the funding hikes.
“Essentially, the four years in which we did get increases kind of got us back to square one, or to a certain extent,” Ruen explained, but said the flat funding of the proposed budget doesn’t take into account cost-of-living expenses, such as increases in utilities, health insurance, and other costs.
Superintendent Ken Amstutz did note that the funding increases the past four years did save the district from having to place a new tax levy on the ballot.
Ruen also noted that income tax funding from the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016 were up $26,000 (4.92 percent), with income tax revenues increasing approximately 3 percent for the year.
“That was good to see,” the treasurer said.
During his report, the superintendent also noted the district saw a large amount of absenteeism over the past two months, due to a variety of illnesses.
“A week and a half to two weeks ago, districtwide, we were about 150 to 200 students out during that timeframe,” Amstutz noted, adding: “We have backed that way down; as of a week ago Friday, we had 102 (absent), Monday 90, yesterday was 76, and today, from the morning reporting, (absenteeism) was 72.”
The superintendent said about half of the current 72 absences are at Van Wert Elementary School. He said absenteeism stemmed from a number of different illnesses, from pink eye to influenza, but also praised staff members for their efforts in keeping absenteeism as low as possible.
“I want to congratulate and thank our nursing staff, because they worked very hard and did a very good job with that,” Amstutz noted. “Our custodial staff also helped, and even our teaching staff, with cleaning desk chairs and things like that. It’s been a concerted effort.”
In personnel action, the board accepted the following supplemental contract resignations: Greg Steinecker and Sean Kennedy as half-time varsity softball coaches, Betsy Davis as varsity assistant softball coach, and Alex Schmidt as varsity boys’ tennis coach.
The board also approved the following new supplemental contracts: Cole Harting as freshman baseball coach, Steinecker as varsity softball head coach, Kennedy as varsity softball assistant coach, Davis and Melissa Bockrath as half-time freshman softball coaches, and Schmidt and Chuck Rollins as half-time boys’ varsity tennis coaches.
Also approved was Jay Royer as a volunteer varsity softball coach.
The following donations were also accepted by the board: Robotics Team — $2,000 from the Van Wert County Foundation, $200 from ISpace Inc., $2,500 from Central Mutual Insurance Company, $500 from Valam Hospitality Inc. (doing business as the Comfort Inn); Senior class projects — $100 from Putman Law Offices, $50 from Lehman Construction LLC, $300 from Thomas and Julie Burenga, $40 from Terry and Verona Eikenbary, and $100 from Trinity United Methodist Church; VWHS Civic Education Fund — $2,800 from the Van Wert County Foundation, VWCS Educators Endowment Fund — $125 from Van Wert Federal Savings Bank; VWMS Cougar Leaders Fund — $620 from Elmco Engineering Inc.; VWMS Renaissance — $75 from Straightline Body & Paint Inc.; $825.04 in salvaged maintenance supplies from Central Insurance; VWHS varsity volleyball team — $100 from Sally Tabler Bricker; and $200 from Summer Sealers LLC for the VWHS varsity wrestling team.
The board also approved reclassifying/transferring $7,150 of Mary E. Marxen Scholarship Fund dollars from the Band Fund to a new Mary E. Marxen Scholarship Fund. Fund dollars can be used for music activities throughout the district, Ruen said.
A then-and-now certificate was also approved for $11,544.46 for boiler repair by Wadsworth & Associates.
The next Van Wert City Board of Education meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, in the S.F. Goedde Building conference room.