SIDNEY — Sidney City Schools released a statement, Thursday, Dec. 6, announcing its intention to educate preschool students in the city schools rather than at Shelby Hills Early Childhood Center.
Friday, Dec. 7, the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, which operates Shelby Hills Early Childhood Center, released a statement in response to the Sidney City Schools announcement.
Both statements are reprinted here.
From Sidney City Schools
SIDNEY — Sidney City Schools is working to develop a plan to bring preschool back to Sidney City Schools from Shelby Hills Early Childhood Center. The cost of preschool for the district was set to increase an additional $500,000 over the next four years. With the growth of the preschool and funding changes related to Ohio Department of Education rules, Shelby Hills Early Childhood Center was no longer able to sustain the previous funding model without help from Sidney City Schools.
“Ultimately, with the additional preschool cost to the district over the next four years, we will have to try and find another way to offer the service and still curb deficit spending,” said Sidney Superintendent Bob Humble.
The district believes with the change, they hope to be able to serve more pre-school students and have a greater impact on the Sidney community.
“We are excited about the expanded opportunities that come with this, especially in that we believe we may be able to offer preschool to more students,” Humble added.
District administration has assembled an exploratory committee of parents, staff and community leaders to develop a game plan and look at the feasibility for a shift. That group will be meeting in December and January to develop a rough plan.
Public meetings will be held in late January to keep the staff and community abreast on the possible addition of preschool and what it will look like within the district and get their feedback.
From Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities
SIDNEY — On Dec. 6, 2018, Sidney City Schools released an announcement about the district’s intention to bring all Sidney preschoolers back into its local schools. Currently, many preschoolers in Shelby County are educated at Shelby Hills Early Childhood Center, a division of the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities. If a plan is developed and approved by the Sidney City Schools Board of Education, Shelby Hills would no longer be the provider of special education preschool services for students in the Sidney City School District.
Sidney City Schools has indicated the decision is both a cost saving measure to their district along with the desire to serve additional children as they will be using a different model than the one currently being used at Shelby Hills. The State of Ohio’s phase out of the Tangible Personal Property Tax, which supported programs provided at Shelby Hills, is a key factor in this issue. In addition to the loss of funds from Tangible Personal Property Taxes, costs to operate Shelby Hills preschool have increased due to the number of students increasing. Since 2014, enrollment at Shelby Hills has increased more than 20 percent.
“Unfortunately, with the loss of Tangible Personal Property Tax and the significant increase in students in recent years, the funding model that has been in place for the preschool was no longer sustainable, and we requested support from Sidney City Schools,” said Leigh Anne Wenning, superintendent of the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, which oversees Shelby Hills Early Childhood Center. “Though we are saddened by Sidney City Schools’ decision to leave Shelby Hills, we respect the decision and offer our unwavering commitment to a positive transition for children and families who will be affected.”
While it is unclear exactly how this change will impact Shelby Hills, it is anticipated that more than 100 students will leave the preschool, which accounts for approximately 47 percent of the student body. Due to this significant decrease, staff reduction is likely. Shelby Hills still plans to provide preschool services for all other school districts in Shelby County.
“Shelby Hills employees have always been passionate about providing Shelby County’s children with an excellent start to their educational journeys,” Wenning said. “In addition to ensuring a smooth transition for all of Sidney’s preschoolers, we are equally committed to supporting our staff through this change. Our employees are the heart of our services, and we are committed to helping those affected navigate this transition in their careers.”
As plans are finalized, Shelby Hills plans to keep staff and the community informed of specific changes as they are confirmed.