School security, finances topics of discussion

By Melanie Speicher - [email protected]

SIDNEY — School safety and finances were discussed during Tuesday night’s Sidney City Schools Board of Education meeting.

Sidney Middle School security officer Rick Cron told the board that the district has a multi-layered security protocol in place.

“There are locked doors at every building and people have to be buzzed in,” said Cron. “There are cameras that are recording 24-hours a day. There’s an armed response team whose members are assigned to each deputy (at the schools).”

The response team members, he said, have undergone a training course created by Sheriff John Lenhart. They also have monthly training seminars.

“Our school teachers on the response team shoot more bullets than the police officers do in a year,” said Cron. “The state of Ohio requires 25 bullets per year to be shot by law enforcement (in training). Our teachers shot 125-150 bullets in each training program

“I have found that it takes special teachers to go to a threat,” he said. “All of our teachers are willing to do that for our kids. We are miles ahead of most school districts (with security measures).”

Cron said Fox News was in town Tuesday to do a program about the security measures in place. Lenhart and Superintendent John Scheu were involved with the interview. Cron said he didn’t know when the segment would air on the national Fox News network. The interviews were expected to air Thursday, Feb. 23.

Any teacher who is not part of the response team also receives training on what to do in an emergency, said Cron.

“Trauma packs are available at each school to assist the victims until rescue squads get there. All the teachers know where the medical packs are located,” said Cron.

“We have uniformed and armed security officers at six schools and the school resource officer at Sidney High School,” said Scheu. “There are 40 volunteer educators who makeup the response team. We have tweaked the program a couple of times.”

Scheu said the respect and relationships between the deputies and students continue to grow.

“A lot of the relationships in the buildings have improved as the kids go up through the grades,” said Scheu.

The safety of the students, said Scheu, is the No. 1 concern of staff and law enforcement.

“I believe when a parent sends their kids to school, they should know they’ll come safely home,” said Scheu.

“We’ve taken our response time from minutes to seconds because of the response team,” said Cron. “I’d like to commend the board for putting the program together.”

“Research of school shootings, campus shootings and theater shootings shows that every 17 seconds a person is either wounded or killed,” said Scheu. “We can put the threat out as soon as possible with the response team.”

Treasurer Mike Watkins began his review of the five-year forecast for the district. He discussed the revenues as the first of a multi-meeting report.

General property tax (real estate) collection, said Watkins is in the $12 million range for fiscal years 2015-17 (actual collections) and goes from an estimated $12,309,229 in fiscal year 2018 down to $9,033,205 in fiscal year 2022. The decrease, in part, is because an emergency tax levy is ending. For it to continue, voters will have to approve it during an upcoming election.

“November 2018 will be the first opportunity to renew the emergency tax levy,” said Watkins.

Property tax allocations, which deal with collections from rollbacks and homestead taxes, are also decreasing throughout the forecast.

Watkins said because all school districts operate under a fiscal year from July 1 to June 30, they receive taxes collected in a two-year span. The tax year runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

In 1976, the state combined all millage and the district collects the same amount of money no matter what the property valuations are. In addition to this permanent tax levy, the district has two other permanent tax levies in place. Millage, said Watkins, is adjusted for inflation. If there’s new construction in the district, that brings new tax money with it.

The emergency levy is for a set amount of dollars, he said, so if property values fall, the millage will be increased to collect the same amount of dollars. The district had two emergency levies. One was voted down by the voters and the district chose not to seek a renewal for it. The other emergency levy was approved in 2009 and can be renewed by voters in November.

The five-year forecast, he said, must be approved in May.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the medical disability retirement of Eric Meiners, Sidney Middle School art teacher, effective March 1, 2018.

• Employed Adam Doenges as a home instruction tutor at $26.11 per hour and Aaron Bernig as an afterschool program teacher at $26 per hour.

• Approved the addition of environmental science to the Sidney High School curriculum beginning with the 2018-19 school year.

• Approved the competition cheer team’s trip to Orlando, Florida, March 22-27, 2018, for national competition. Travel arrangements will be made by the advisers. One-third of the trip will be paid by the athletic boosters, one-third by the cheer boosters and one-third by the members of the team.

• Appointed Dan Bensman to the Shelby County Libraries Board of Trustees. He will replace Harry Faulkner on the board.

The board’s next meeting will be Monday, March 5, at 6 p.m. at the board of education office.

By Melanie Speicher

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.