A letter asking Morristown Village Council to pay rent for the use of office space at the Union Local School's administrative offices in Morristown, sparked debate between school board members and two council members who attended a Nov. 19 board meeting.
At the board's October meeting, they voted to begin charging what would amount to $2,400 a year ($200 a month) in rent to the village for use of office space at the 201 W. Cross Street administration offices (former Morristown school building).
Morristown Village Council president and acting mayor Gordon Price told board members that the council would not pay rent.
"We are appalled and we will not accept it," Price said.
He said the village would vacate the building, but would withdraw what he saw as services to the school district that included fire runs, grass mowing and snow removal.
Price said he felt the district was reneging on an agreement with the village to provide space for their office. Price said the district signed a letter of intent with the village when they withdrew their bid for a former Ohio Department of Transportation building near the schools. Price said the village withdrew their bid on the building, so that the district could have it and the village would then occupy the former Morristown school building.
Council member Lois Barr said the district then sold the ODOT building for a profit and was now asking the village to pay rent on a building, that in her opinion, belonged to them.
"The $2,400 a year in rent is small in comparison to your total budget, but will have a big impact on the 'good will' in the village, Barr said. "You have opened a Pandora's box."
In response, board member Ed Stenger said the board, who was expecting to obtain the ODOT building for $1, paid $250,000 for it.
It was pointed out that the district sold the ODOT building for $425,000.
Stenger said it was a board decision to sell the building for a profit. A decision that he stands by.
"We did what made sense for the district," board member Jennifer Schmitt said. "We have to do what is best for the district."
Board member Doug Kemp said the district already paid people to mow and remove snow. He questioned why the village charged the district for water service, when they were providing them rent-free office space.
Both parties agreed to discuss the matter further, when the board makes a final decision on rent charges.
"We need to work together," Price said. Both parties invited the other to attend respective meetings. Later in the meeting, the board voted to withdraw the request for a lease payment, with the intent of reaching an agreement later.
In other matters at the meeting, Superintendent Kirk Glasgow reported on the Ohio School Board Association capital conference that he and board member Allan Mann attended recently.
Glasgow told other board members that he learned about the effects of technology on today's students and their learning process.
Glasgow said he attended a drop out recovery workshop aimed at helping students who were falling behind on credits. He said alternative schools are being created in bigger districts for the purpose of helping those students. Glasgow said rural district will need to implement credit flexibility that would include projects and portfolios in lieu of time spent in the classroom. He said credit flexibility programs will be required by next year and that the district will need to have a plan put together.
Glasgow also updated the board on the $2.5 million building project.
"The project is winding down," Glasgow said. He said the project will come in under budget, with approximately $5,000 left over.
Repaving of the parking lot in front of the high school entrance was being done at the time of the meeting.
Glasgow said the district may have to put a capital improvement levy on the ballot for upkeep of the buildings. The district received 80 percent of the project costs from the State Schools Facility Commission. The district borrowed the remaining 20 percent or $600,000.
Glasgow also told the board that he may have to limit the number of times that the parent broadcast system is used. He said he has been inundated with requests to use the system and parents have been complaining about the amount of messages they are receiving. Glasgow said he will try to consolidate the messages to once a week.
Board members heard reports from Jeff Bizzarri, technology/EMIS coordinator and Dennis Green, District Testing/Data Coordinator/Guidance Counselor.
Bizzarri said 52 computers have been installed at the high school. He said there were a total of 125 used and 100 new computers in the district.
He said the amount of funding for technology development and Internet access from the state decreases every year. He said $6,000 was lost this year.
Bizzarri noted that last year the board approved the purchase of three new computers for each teacher in grades three through five.
He said Union Local was the only district in Belmont County that does not have a fiber run to the buildings. Bizzarri said the district is supposed to have the fiber in the next three years.
He said the district continues to develop the district Web pages and the principals were utilizing their sites.
Bizzarri noted that the board is considering a technology fee. He said if passed, he would use the money to update the district's printers. (The board later passed a $5 district fee).
"It has been a pretty good year so far," Bizzarri concluded.
Dennis Green reported on testing and assessments, counseling, bullying and absences.
He said absences and tardies have been a challenge due to illness.
In a related matter, the board was addressed by the father of a student who was referred to the county attendance officer, because his five-day absence for a family vacation was not approved by the building principal.
Board member Ed Stenger said the board would look at the attendance policy and how to incorporate an exception for individual situations.
The board also:
* Approved job descriptions for support services assistant and revised head cook and cafeteria assistant positions;
* Approved $100 stipends for Crisis Intervention Training paid by Special Education Funds to professional staff members Cheryl Huff, Dave Stahnke and Kara Erwin and $75 stipends to para professional aides Sandra Cain, Cathy Caretti, Marianne Fraley, Joyce Nardo, Nancy Rogers, Terri Saffell, Elaine Schafer, Diane Tomich, Evelyn Wilson, Kami Wines and Missy Smith;
* Approved Shauna Benson as Right to Read Coordinator, April Linard as Drama Club/Play Advisor and Kelley Hercules as Multi-Media Director;
* Approved the hiring of John Howell as junior high wrestling coach and Katina Emory as cook, custodian;
* Approved the following field trips to FCCLA, Columbus, state officer/advisor meeting, Dec. 8-9; JSA, Washington D.C. Congress 2010, Feb. 11-14, 2010 and JSA, Columbus, State Capitol, April 17-18, 2009 and;
* Approved $3,000 from a Violence, Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs grant to Rachel's Challenge and a donation of $600 from the ULHS Class of 1989 for the UL Nature Trail Bench.
Union Local students will take part in the Rachel's Challenge assembly presentation "to change the mindsets of our kids about dealing with "differences."' The presentation is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 9. Rachel's Challenge is inspired by the life of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Superintendent Glasgow said the district will also invite some students from other schools to take place in the one-hour presentation.