Mount Vernon News

By Mount Vernon News
February 25, 2013 10:15 am EST


MOUNT VERNON — How do short-term benefits affect long-term goals and needs? What is fair for all students? How does one avoid setting a precedent? What does a particular action do to the overall big picture? How does one balance best-case scenarios with real world actualities?

Those questions and more were considered when the Mount Vernon City Schools Board of Education met in special session Saturday. The state of the school district’s financial situation and the need to pass a levy was the golden thread weaving through all topics discussed.


LJJA Martial Arts


Freshman baseball, which was eliminated earlier this school year when the November levy failed, was the initial focus of the board’s deliberations. Responding to a proposal put forth by interested community member Michelle Carpenter which would fund the program by outside sources, the board considered various ramifications of any action it might take in the matter.

“This is about more than baseball,” board vice president Jody Goetzman said. “The community needs to understand we are listening to them, but they need to understand that this is the real world.”

“Today we are talking about one sport,” said board member Steve Thompson. “What about next year?”

Those and other questions — such as: Would the coach be paid or be a volunteer? Is it a contractual matter? Could an adequate game schedule be worked out? Would umpires be available? Would the district then have to institute freshman softball in order to comply with federal law? — were answered by Carpenter and athletic director Mark Shively.

The board ultimately voted to reinstate freshman baseball for this year only, with the program to be funded by donations and pay-to-participate fees.

“Freshman baseball was on the cut list,” said board member Cheryl Feasel. “People have to understand that circumstances have changed. This will not be a cost to the district.”

“I would like to be clear that this is something we are doing once,” added board member Paula Barone. “This is not a pattern for other extra-curricular programs.”

“I’m pleased with the board’s decision,” Carpenter said. “It’s just a start, though. The community has to pull together.”

The board then talked about what would happen if the May levy fails and what will occur if it passes. Superintendent Steve Short reviewed previously made reductions, which total nearly $6 million in the last five years.

If the levy fails, he said, the board will have to make an additional $1.3 million in cuts before the 2013-14 school year. If it passes, high school busing could be restored.

As the board considered potential cuts, it looked at how cutting various programs would affect students’ futures. Board members weighed the impact of various co-curricular and extra-curricular programs and discussed Core Curriculum and state graduation requirements.

“It is all very difficult,” said board president Margie Bennett. “If the levy fails, we will have to cut non-mandated positions [such as elementary art, music and physical education] and eliminate extra- and co-curricular programs. With salary and benefit savings as a result of expected retirements, we should be able to cut the needed $1.3 million from our budget.”

The board is taking a closer look at where savings could be made, and a more complete list, Bennett said, will be available at the March 4 board meeting.

Prior to adjournment, the board went into executive session to discuss personnel.

No further action was taken.

Contact Pamela Schehl

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