By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Jonathan Alder Local Schools has lost six days of school to bad weather and will make up one of those days next month.
On Jan. 13, the school board chose Feb. 17, Presidents Day, as a make-up day. The day after Easter, April 21, was set aside as a second make-up day in case any more days are lost.
The district lost two days in December due to snow and four in January due to snow and temperatures well below zero. During the cold snap, custodial workers dealt with broken pipes and heating issues.
Community residents Lee Yutzy, Joe Bennett and Mark Syx worked with the high school custodians late into the night Jan. 7 so that school could open the next morning. The board commended the group for their efforts.
The state allows school districts five calamity days; anything more than that must be made up. That will change next school year in conjunction with a new law requiring schools to meet a minimum number of instructional hours, rather than a minimum number of instructional days. There will be no calamity days.
The change shifts the minimum from 182 days to 1,001 hours for junior high and high school students. At the rate of 5.5 hours of instructional time a day, 182 days equals 1,001 hours. (The minimum for elementary students through sixth grade is 910 hours.) Lunch period is not included in the minimum.
Currently Jonathan Alder elementary, middle and junior high students get 1,125 hours of instruction, and high school students get 1,170 hours. As such, the district could have several snow days or delays before falling to the minimum, Chapman said.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) says districts may schedule excess hours above the minimum. Hours missed above the minimum will not have to be made up.
If a district falls below the minimum, the district can add hours to the school day to make up for lost time, but such plans must be submitted to ODE before the start of the school year. School boards must hold a public hearing on the plans 30 days before adopting the school calendar. Jonathan Alder’s public hearing will take place at the next school board meeting on Feb. 10.
As part of its annual reorganization, the board changed its meeting time to 6:30 p.m., 30 minutes earlier than in the past. The regular meeting day remains the same, the second Monday of the month.
Steve Votaw, elected board president for 2014, said the earlier start time means those attending meetings won’t be out too late, even if the meetings run long.
Tom Bichsel was elected vice president, and board members elected in November were sworn in to office. Mary Jo Boyd was re-elected and appointed board member Shannon Foust was elected to his first full term.
The board changed the graduation date from Saturday, May 31, to Sunday, June 1 at 2 p.m. Traditionally graduation takes place on a Saturday with a rain date of Sunday. With graduation now being held indoors, “there is no need for a rain date,” said high school Principal Phil Harris.
Sunday also works better, Harris said, because Jonathan Alder finishes the school year while some spring sports are still in session. Saturday ball games and track meets have often overlapped with graduation ceremonies. The Ohio High School Athletic Association does not allow baseball playoff games or track and field meets to take place on Sundays.
Additionally, graduation will take place an hour later than usual to avoid an overlap with church services.
Football coach resigns
The board accepted the resignation of head football coach Steve Coates.
Coates was assistant coach at Jonathan Alder from 2000 to 2005 and head coach from 2006 through this past season. In eight years of coaching, he had a 65-27 record, including an undefeated regular season in 2011 when the Pioneers made it to the third round of playoffs. He took the team to playoffs in five seasons.
Athletic Director Tom Vargo said Coates plans to begin a new phase of his life and spend more time with his family.
Work on tax levy
A proposed 0.5 percent income tax request for the district is one step closer to being placed on the May 6 ballot. The board approved a resolution to proceed with the request. The district is currently collecting a 0.75 percent income tax.
The increase, which would be for seven years, would generate an estimated $1.3 million a year.
The district made budget cuts this past year after errors were found in revenue projections. Funds from the income tax increase would allow the district to increase the number and variety of elective courses and provide more opportunities for tutoring, guidance and individual student support, Chapman said.
The levy also would allow the district to expand the pre-school, kindergarten and early childhood educa-tion programs, provide updated instructional materi-als, replace computers that are seven to 12 years old, and install wireless access at the high school, junior high and Monroe Elementary.
Doug and Tiffany Izzard and Doug and Nicole Schrock are co-chairs of the levy campaign committee. Heidi Kellett and Jerry May are the committee treasurers. Questions concerning the levy can be addressed to the Jonathan Alder Levy Committee at P.O. Box 392, Plain City, OH 43064.