HOWARD — Calamity days and their effect on school calendars was one topic discussed by the East Knox school board on Wednesday.
The district is now into spring break for makeup days; the first is April 9. June 3 and June 4 will also be used to make up calamity days. Superintendent John Marschhausen said the seniors are adamant about keeping graduation on May 28, so seniors will have one Saturday makeup day. That will be announced at a later date, and is feasible as long as there are no more calamity days.
According to state mandates, schools will be allowed three calamity days in the 2010-11 school year, and, potentially, fewer to no days in later years. While approving the 2012-13 school calendar, the board talked about proactive options to avoid tagging days onto the end of the school year. One possible solution would be to build more days into the school calendar; that is, eliminate four days of spring break and instead schedule a series of three-day weekends in April and May. Good Friday and Easter Monday would be scheduled days off, and the Fridays of the three-day weekends could be used for calamity day makeup.
Another topic dealt with cybersecurity, etiquette and safety. Schools, by law, are responsible for any cyberbulling that interferes with the learning process, even if it occurs outside school hours and off school property. Marschhausen said East Knox is taking a lead in educating students about cyberscurity and etiquette, and will be piloting an online cyber-safety module this spring. After the necessary improvements and adjustments are made, he said, the full module will be implemented in the fall. He is also moving forward with both a parent and teacher component to the program.
High school/middle school principal Ryan Gallwitz said Ohio Graduation Tests will be administered next week, and talked about some other upcoming school events. He said scheduling for next school year is in progress. Two different schedules are being planned — one based on the levy issue passing on May 4, another in case it fails.
Marschhausen said he is worried about the decreased opportunities the district will be able to provide students if the levy fails in May.
“A well-rounded education includes many of the areas we will be forced to cut,” he said. “The arts programs, physical edcuation classes and other courses that will be cut will have a negative impact on East Knox. We are really without options. We either need to increase revenue or we must reduce expenditures.”
Gallwitz also presented information about a proposed flexible credit policy, procedures and guidelines. All school districts in Ohio must implement such a plan by the first official day of school for the 2010-11 school year. The flexible credit options could include things such as independent study, post-secondary enrollment, dual credit courses, testing out of required courses, distance learning, online education and educational travel. Students would be required to submit a plan specifying their desired credit flexibility option and have it approved by their parent or guardian, teacher, administrator and school counselor.
The board adopted the flex credit process and procedures as proposed.
Treasurer Jessi Busenburg reported district expenses, due to cost-containment measures implemented, are down $53,000 from this time last year; revenue is $133,000 less than this time last year. She said the revenue decrease is partially due to a 1 percent reduction in state school funding, low interest rates on bank accounts, little or no increase in property tax revenue and a slight decrease in the number of open enrolled students. She projects deficit spending for this fiscal year to be in the $800,000 range.
Regarding personnel, the board granted the retirement request of third-grade teacher Laverta Kirkpatrick, effective June 1. Kirkpatrick has been with the district for 35 years. It also accepted the resignations of school psychologist Gail Weygandt, effective at the end of the 2009-10 school year, and that of girls track coach Chassidy Faucett. The board approved three supplemental contracts for spring sports and a pair volunteers for track.
It employed Ron Fannin as a long-term substitute for a middle school teacher on maternity leave and Kathy Nouse as a long-term substitute for an elementary teacher on maternity leave. As an annual course of action, the board also voted to non-renew the supplemental contracts for a number of coaches, as well as the teaching contracts of STRS retirees Judith Slone, second-grade teacher, and Timothy Hughes, eighth-grade math teacher.
Besides approving routine fiscal transactions and reports, the board accepted a $5,700 donation from the Athletic Boosters to the East Knox Athletic Department. It also approved the services of a public relations consultant and contracted with Pro Guard for pest management at the middle school. The board also voted to amend the 2009-10 service contract with the Knox County Educational Service Center. Busenburg said the latest billing from the ESC is $35,000 more than the budget estimate, most likely due to increased enrollment in preschool and a special unit.
Busenburg said she will continue to monitor the expenditures to make sure the district is being billed correctly, and, upon the request of the board, will investigate ways to reduce those costs.