Board of education answers resident’s questions

SIDNEY — Questions were asked of the Sidney City Schools Board of Education during its February meeting.

Cheri Epperson, of Sidney, provided a list of questions she wanted answered by the district and board of education. What follows are Epperson’s questions and the school district’s answers.

What buildings and locations does the school actively use? Sidney High School, 1215 Campbell Road; Sidney Middle School, 980 Fair Road; Northwood Intermediate, 1152 St. Marys Ave; Longfellow Primary, 1250 Park St.; Emerson Primary, 901 Campbell Road; Whittier Early Childhood Center, 425 Belmont St.; Board of Education Building, 750 S. Fourth Ave.; Maintenance Facility, 2110 St. Marys Ave.; Sidney Memorial Stadium and surrounding athletic facilities.

What buildings that the school owns are not actively being used? Parkwood Russell Road, storage and Sidney Police Department uses it for training purposes.

What happened to the rainy day fund? If you are referring to the SCS cash carryover balance, the district expenditures began to outpace revenues starting in fiscal year 2018. Therefore the carryover balance the district had built up over the years began to shrink.

If this new levy passes, will the property tax for the school district still be collected? Yes, we have existing property tax levies that will continue to collect. They will not collect additional money beyond what the dollar amount they initially passed for. As property values increase, the millage decreases but the dollar amount collected remains the same.

If this levy passes, how long before Sidney Schools will be asking for more money? Given the amended 5-year forecast Mike Watkins presented at the Feb. 23 board meeting, this levy, coupled with the extensive cuts and changes the district has made and continue to make, will stabilize the school district for the foreseeable future and the district shouldn’t have to ask for more money for a long time. Of course, various factors can change, but Watkins presents fairly conservative changes in the forecast to account for that.

The district will have to renew the existing 9.43 mill levy that was originally passed as a 9.9 mill levy in 2009, renewed as 9.23 mills in 2014 and again at the same millage in 2018. In 2009 and 2014, that levy was approved for 5 years. In 2018, the voters approved it for 10 years, so it’s renewal will take place in 2028. That levy was passed at a value of $4,417,364.

Why are the teachers, custodians, cooks, and teacher aides always cut first before administration or other cuts? Your question presents the idea that the district does not cut administration when expenses need to be reduced. If you look historically at our district that is not true. The following reductions have been made to the administrative team since 2008:

• November 2008 – Eliminated preschool program – one administrator (With the current Whittier Early Childhood preschool program, we did not add any new administrators, using an existing administrator to fill the role.)

• May 2009 – Closed Lowell Elementary – one administrator (building has been sold)

• September 2010 – Eliminated assistant superintendent position

• May 2011 – Closed Central Elementary – one administrator (building has been sold)

• Summer 2011 – Eliminated transportation supervisor

• Summer 2012 – Eliminated Northwood assistant principal

• Spring 2019 – Incorporated Alternative School program into the high school and eliminated the Alternative School principal.

• Spring 2020 – Eliminated dean of students at Northwood Elementary

• Winter 2021 – Eliminated business manager position

Historically, when the district is in a position to reduce staffing levels related to cost reductions, all classifications are considered. Reductions are then made based on what’s best for students, yet maintaining the effect operations of the district.

How much money does the school get in grants a year? We are required by federal law to give a portion of the funds to non-public schools.

Federal Programs:

• Title I — restricted to Title I identified buildings (K-3) and serving Title I non-public school, $857,146 (subject to change every year)

• Title II — restricted for professional development & continuous improvement and serving three area non-publics, $271,000 (subject to change every year)

• Title III — restricted to English learners, $11,313 (subject to change every year)

• Title IV — restricted to well-rounded education and serving three area non-publics, $100, 468 (subject to change every year)

• IDEA — restricted for serving students with disabilities within our district and area non-publics, $1,010,696 (subject to change every year)

Is it true the grant writer was cut? Sidney City Schools has never had a dedicated and compensated grant writer.

Has anyone approached parents/students of homeschooling and open enrollment to find out why they are choosing these routes? Yes – responses vary and can be vague.

How many programs do we have in the Sidney School System, example – Latchkey, bussing, EMIS, Work Study? Do each have a coordinator or supervisor beside the people working it? Latchkey is a before and after school care service for children in grades K-5. It is a paid service, so the families of students who participate pay a weekly fee. There is a coordinator of that program who supervises the employees, the activities, and the fees.

The Transportation Department, which isn’t’ a program, has a coordinator who oversees the bus drivers, their training, bus routes, bus maintenance schedules, alternative transportation (getting district students to specialized schools like UVCC, the Nicholas School, etc) and transportation schedules for athletics and other student activities. The Transportation Department employs 12 full time bus drivers plus one full time van driver. THe drivers each have one regular route that is made up of 4 trips (AM SHS/SMS, AM Elementary, PM SHS/SMS, PM Elementary).

EMIS – Also not a program. This is the student records and reporting….there is one person in this department who handles all of the state reporting from student demographics, special education data, attendance, staff qualifications, etc.

Work Study is a program within the high school overseen by a teacher.

If people are retired and have a part time job, on their part time income, will they pay this income tax? All W-2 wages will be taxed. If the part time income is reported on a W-2, then yes, it will be taxable. Income that is not taxed includes retirement income, Social Security income, IRA distributions, pensions, unemployment compensation, workers compensation, interest and dividends, capital gains, royalties, profit from rental activities, lottery winnings, distributive shares of profit from corporations, alimony received and distributions from trusts and estates.

The building that faces Fourth Avenue – how many people work in this building not including doctor office employees. How much rent does the school receive from this doctor office? The Board of Education building employs central office staff. There are 18 full-time staff on site including the superintendent, treasurer, special education and curriculum director and coach. Two members of the Vartech team have the Board of Education office as their homebase but their services are contracted.

Wilson Health does not pay rent because they paid to build out the space and serve our employees, students and parents along with the general public.

Why last week students had E-learning while other schools maybe had 2-hour delay but still attended? County kids who live in small towns also walk. We have a team of people who drive all areas of our district to assess road conditions and because of the geographical size of our district, road conditions vary from one area to the next. Additionally, we have to take into account the conditions of sidewalks walking to school as well as the temperatures and wind chill factors. We have some students that walk 2 miles each way. Even if a county school student were to walk, none are walking the distances our students are walking.

A while back, someone posted about the ratio of administration to students. What positions are in this ratio? Included in that would be: superintendent; treasurer; curriculum, special education, athletic directors; EMIS, communications, Latchkey and Work Study coordinators; principals; assistant principals. That number was 24 in FY20 (fiscal year) and has been reduced to 19 in FY21 (current year).

Can you tell me or give me a list of positions that the school now has employed – no names – just title and example fourth grade how many teachers are employed also same for clerical etc.

For the 2020-21 school year, the certified staff break downs at each building includes:

• Board of education office: one superintendent, one treasurer, five directors — curriculum director, special education director director of business operations, communications coordinator and EMIS coordinator — , three psychologists, five speech therapists and one instructional support.

• Emerson: one principal, 18 classroom teachers and one music teacher.

• Longfellow: one principal, 18 classroom teachers, one English Language Learner, one art teacher and one physical education teacher.

• Northwood: one principal, 28 classroom teachers, one music teacher, one physical education teacher and one counselor.

• Whittier: one principal and 10 classroom teachers.

• Sidney Middle: one principal, two assistant principals, 52 classroom teachers, one art teacher, two music teachers, two physical education teachers and two counselors.

• Sidney High: one principal, two assistant principals, one athletic director, 39 classroom teachers, one English Language Learner, two art teachers, three music teachers, one physical education teacher, one work study instructor and three guidance counselors.

Auxiliary: two classroom teachers.

Certified staff by building includes:

• Board of education office: three aides, two custodian/maintenance, 10 administration assistant/clerical/Latchkey, 14 transportation.

• Emerson: four aides, three cafe manager/cook/courier. two custodian/maintenance, and one administrative assistant/clerical.

• Longfellow: six aides, two cook/courier, two custodian/maintenance and one administrative assistant/clerical.

• Northwood: five aides, five cook/courier, three custodian/maintenance and one clerical.

• Whittier: 15 aides, one custodian/maintenance and one clerical.

• Sidney Middle: eight aides, nine cooks/courier; five custodian/maintenance and two administrative assistant/clerical.

• Sidney High: 11 aides, nine cafe manager/cook/courier, six custodian/maintenance, and four administrative assistant/clerical.

• Service Center: one cook/courier and five custodian/maintenance.

There is only one courier for the district which serves each school building.

This does not include the staff reductions decided this year made for next school year. The cafe manager is housed at Sidney High School and services all the buildings. She is the head cook at the high school.