Hello all. It has been a while since I have written a post. Frankly, until this past month, there have not been really any big decisions by the board. First I will start off with a summary of all the big things from September through December and then I’ll summarize the January meetings.
In September we received the official commitment from the State (OFCC) to help fund the new Warner Middle School project. The State portion will allow us to cover the costs of the construction project and offers the possibility to pay down the loan further and save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. The Board also voted to dedicate the XHS Gym in honor of Coach Anderson. Another awesome note is that our football team went 10-0! It was an amazing season and I loved seeing the community come together to support them. It was also great to see that academically the football team performed great, achieving a team GPA of 3.71, a true definition of student-athletes! We hope to see a lot more success for our students through the rest of the year and beyond.
After having over 17,000 people attend our football games, and recognizing the declining status of our stadium, the Board voted in October to begin a renovation project of the Doug Adams Stadium. We are able to take this project on in part because of the great fiscal status of the district and because the State funds are helping to complete the Warner project. The stadium renovation will be paid completely with money we have set aside for facilities and construction and sponsorships from the community. We will do the stadium renovation in phases starting with the lights and bleachers. There will be new lights installed and a total demolition of the bleachers. We will rebuild the bleachers with added seating, a new press box, ADA compliance, and we will switch the home and away sides so the sun will no longer be directly on the home side. We will also be able to add some additional parking near the stadium. This will be a great project to support our students, athletes, and community.
In November the board approved the 5 year forecast. Unfortunately, because only one of our two renewal levies passed the forecast still shows that by 2025 we may have to cut back on some of our programs to maintain a balanced budget. The levy that did not pass was an income tax renewal that has been around since the 1980’s and provides nearly $5 million in general funds for the district. It only lost by 1 vote out of about 13,000 total votes showing just how important it is to get out and vote.
In December we finalized the agreement for the Doug Adams stadium project and set our board meeting dates for the next year.
Now for January. In January we had our regular meeting and a special meeting. At our regular meeting I was selected to continue for another year as the President of the school board with George as the Vice President. I felt it was important with all of the projects we have going on and the board coming together nicely last year that we keep some level of consistency into this year. We also voted to put the renewal levy back on the ballot in May. It is important the levy passes so that we can continue to fund all of the great programs that we currently have going. I will not go to the community to ask for new money so if this renewal levy were to not pass, then we would have to consider some changes in order to keep a balanced budget and make up for about $5 million.
The January special meeting was called mainly to accept the Guaranteed Maximum Price for the Warner project. Since the meeting was already taking place we decided to add our Treasurer’s resignation and the contract with the Shared Resource Center (SRC) to the agenda. The Board voted to accept our treasurer’s resignation, effective March 20th. Before I get into the SRC I would like to provide a little background information. At the end of December I received a call from another district and they informed me they were probably going to try and hire our current Treasurer. With that knowledge and having, as a board, already done everything we could to try and keep her I started thinking about what our path forward may be in the case the other district did in fact hire our treasurer. After consulting with our administration I was informed of the existence of the SRC and I thought that would be a good option until the board is able to conduct a regular meeting and discuss further options. The SRC is essentially like a law firm. You contract with them and they provide you with a main point of contact treasurer. That contact and the district also has access to all the other treasures that are part of the SRC if the need should arise. They are not a head hunting organization, but a bridge that a district can use in cases similar to ours where you are losing a treasure in the middle of a year and need time to search, interview, and hire a new treasurer. By law the district is required to have a licensed treasurer on contract at all times. There are not a great number of treasurers around Ohio and even less during the school year. We basically had/have four options, 1) use a head hunting organization to help us hire and interim treasurer and search for a permanent treasurer, 2) find a nearby district that would let us “borrow” there treasurer on a part time basis while we conduct a search, 3) find a retired, but still licensed treasurer that is willing to work while we conduct a search, or 4) hire the SRC to buy some time while we do any of the previous numbers or just conduct a search. Although we only received official notice of the resignation of our current treasure a couple weeks earlier, I believe most everyone on the board was well aware of the possibility of needing to choose one of these options. The board ultimately voted to hire the SRC in a 3-2 vote. I voted yes to hiring the SRC for several reasons. First, I believe it is better to secure a firm fall back and make sure we are compliant with the law before going forward with one of the other options that all have the possibility of very poor results. Second, I believe that any treasurer that is “available” in the middle of a school year and not already under contract somewhere is most likely not a high quality treasurer. With all of the projects we have going on I think it is important we hire an adequate treasurer and not just a body to fill the position. Without a quality treasurer it would be very easy for our projects to quickly derail, costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars to possibly millions in wasted money. Third, I am also not entirely sure “borrowing” a treasurer from a nearby district is legal or possible. Also, why would I want to hire someone that would put Xenia second to their primary district? What if we had an emergency and needed them and they couldn’t come because of a commitment from their other district? I do think finding a retired, licensed treasurer could be a viable option, but we need time to do that. The SRC contract does not start full costs until the end of March and we can end the contract at any time. Again, I felt having a secure option to fall back on in case we are unable to find an interim/permanent treasurer is better than nothing at all. The total cost of the SRC until the end of July is approximately $65,000. The cost we would have incurred from our current treasurer in that time is approximately $50,000 plus benefits. Once you factor in the benefits the total cost of the SRC will actually be less than what we would have paid to our current treasurer. If we happen to find an interim treasurer before the end of March then we will have incurred basically zero cost, meaning it hurt nothing to agree to the contract, buy ourselves some time and work on starting our search for a permanent replacement at treasurer. Now, in our next meeting the board can discuss the possibility of an interim treasurer as well as how we would like to conduct our search for our permanent treasurer. I, for one, feel much more comfortable proceeding with the search knowing that I have a dedicated treasurer and resources that will ensure our multi-million dollar building projects stay on schedule and on budget and that we are adhering to Ohio State law.
Please send me any comments, concerns, feedback, or questions you may have. I serve you and I am here to represent you to the best of my abilities.