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Indian Creek backing school funding plan

MINGO JUNCTION — Indian Creek school board officials are backing a move to more accurately calculate funding costs for education.

The board passed a resolution in support of H.B. 305, also known as the Fair School Funding Plan, which they say would paint a clearer picture of how money should be used. According to the resolution, Ohio Rep. Robert Cupp, R-Lima, and Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, convened a statewide workgroup including school district treasurers and superintendents to devise a new formula that would overhaul the current school funding system.

The group has worked for the past three years to determine what was necessary to fund a thorough and efficient system of common schools to reduce an over-reliance on local property tax and create equity in the state foundation system.

The board deemed it necessary to formally endorse the plan “to ensure that K-12 schools in Ohio are funded using a rational school funding system that meets the needs of all Ohio’s students in the 21st century.”

Indian Creek Schools Superintendent T.C. Chappelear said an effort has been underway to determine a more feasible manner and state legislators are expected to vote in the current session.

“The Fair School Funding Plan has been something that a workgroup has been working on for a few years. They are really trying to get something done by the end of this session,” he said. “The issue is they are going to have to start over from zero if they get nothing done.”

Officials believe the measure will pass in the Ohio House but it may be more difficult in the Senate, which has a proposal of its own.

“Currently, we get funded at $6,020 per student and we don’t know why it’s that number,” Chappelear added. “The workgroup looked at the cost of educating a student, the number of schools and what should be funded for teachers … to come up with a way the district could be funded to provide an education for the students.”

During discussion, he explained that the state share index was determined by a 60-40 percent mix of property valuations and income, and while Indian Creek appears to be plentiful according to valuations it is different under the income guidelines.

“There would be a fairer way to determine how it should be funded,” he continued.

District Treasurer Denise Todoroff noted that the new plan also does not include open enrollment or EdChoice vouchers.

“We are going to be funded on the students educated so we won’t lose money. The scenarios are fully funded and it benefits us,” she said.

“To me, this is an explainable formula,” Chappelear said. “The challenge is Senate Chairman Matt Huffman has his own plan and the one developed by the workgroup that includes education and funding experts. The hope is the legislators will see (ours) makes sense.”

Leaders also suggested contacting local legislators to support the Fair School Funding Plan when it goes to vote at the Statehouse.

Meanwhile, Todoroff presented the five-year forecast for approval and said the numbers indicate some deficit spending in the future.

“The forecast is looking a little better than May, but unfortunately it looks like we’re spending more than we’re taking in,” she explained. “We should finish this year with over $2 million with $1.4 million next year and over $600,000 in fiscal year 2023.”

She cited changes in insurance premiums, saying the district paid for 11 months during the last fiscal year and 13 months this time. Todoroff continued that revenue from mineral valuations have benefitted Indian Creek’s coffers but it could be a temporary source, while she was also keeping an eye on real estate values.

In other matters, the board:

¯ Recognized National American Education Week with correspondence from Indian Creek Education Association President Karen Lloyd recognizing teachers for providing face-to-face and virtual education during COVID-19 and also thanking leaders for their ongoing cooperation;

¯ Accepted a $500 donation from Hilscher-Clarke Electric Co. of Canton for the food pantries at all four buildings;

¯ Recognized students and athletes for their successes and discussed a planned virtual talent show at Indian Creek High School on Dec. 22 which will be shown on YouTube;

¯ Approved an easement and right of way for American Electric Power for electric installation to the new high school project in Wintersville;

¯ Hired Crissy Russell as a bus driver;

¯ Approved supplemental contracts for Joe Pulver, freshman boys’ basketball; Clay Edgerly and Josh Morris, eighth-grade boys’ basketball (half-positions); Mike Conrad, seventh-grade boys’ basketball coach; Tera Parrish, eighth-grade girls’ basketball; Courtney Hatcher, seventh-grade girls’ basketball; and Monica Pendleton, ICHS boys’ and girls’ tennis;

¯ Named Kenneth Skinner and Raeann Sowers as volunteers at Indian Creek Middle School;

¯ Approved the resignation of Brandy Riley, cook/cashier at Wintersville Elementary;

¯ Approved Angela Bell as a cafeteria, secretary and paraprofessional on the classified substitute list;

¯ Heard from Chappelear that a time capsule was found at Kettlewell Stadium with programs and information from the original stadium dedication. The materials were provided to the Kettlewell family while the stadium plaque will be placed on the new building;

¯ Learned from Assistant Superintendent John Belt on construction and renovations in the district, including the razing of buildings at Kettlewell Stadium to create new concession, restrooms and amenities with demolition set for Dec. 1. He said the gym will also be enclosed at Cross Creek Elementary in December while the first three classrooms at Hills Elementary are being renovated. The board later set the next meeting for Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. at Hills to showcase the work.

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