(Posted Sept. 9, 2018)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Families whose children want to participate in Madison-Plains band and athletics are digging a little deeper in their pockets this school year.
The Madison-Plains school board approved a pay-to-participate program that took effect with the start of the school year.
The cost is $100 per student per sport or band activity with a $200 maximum per family per season. The program applies to students in grades 7-12.
The program was drawn up under the administration of former superintendent Tim Dettwiller who retired in July. School district voters passed a 1.25 percent income tax levy in May, but collection of the tax doesn’t start until January 2019. From that point forward, it takes about 18 months before the tax will be collected at its full extent.
The pay-to-participate program, which is expected to generate $25,000 this year, will help to tide the district over until the tax collection reaches a significant level. The district has put other budget reduction measures in place, including leaving some supplemental staff positions vacant, saving $28,000.
The school board approved the pay-to-participate program for only the 2018-19 school year. It will be up for evaluation at the end of the school year. Students who are on free or reduced-price lunch are exempt from paying the fee.
Other district news
Mark Mason was back in the school board president’s seat on Aug. 29 after stepping back from his duties for two regular board meetings and one special board meeting this summer.
Earlier this year, Mason was called to active duty as a member of the Air National Guard. In certain situations, Guard members cannot serve in elected office while on active duty. Because his unique job with the Guard does not involve deployment away from the area, Mason has asked for a waiver.
While he waits for the waiver to be processed, he has received permission from the military to return to running the school board meetings and participating in discussions. For now, though, he cannot vote on board business.
Mason attended the three summer meetings as an audience member.
At the Aug. 29 board meeting, Chad Eisler, the district’s new superintendent, reported that enrollment is down 20 students from this time last year. Enrollment this year stood at 1,236 at the end of the first week of school.
Eisler announced that Madison-Plains is joining seven other rural school districts to share ideas and information about Ohio Department of Education directives, testing, standards, subject area content, resources, and growth.
North Union is heading up the collaborative. Other member districts are Elgin, Fairbanks, Mechanicsburg, Pleasant, Ridgedale and Triad. The cost to join is $1,500.
Eisler also stated that because he is new to the district, he wants to meet as many people as possible to make connections with the community. That includes meeting with township trustees in the district.
Christina Finney, director of Madison-Plains’ gifted program, gave a brief overview of the program, in effect since the 2015-16 school year.
She said 100 students were identified as gifted following testing in grades two through six.
When the program started, teachers were excited and wanted professional development opportunities so they could learn how to serve the children, Finney said.
The school board’s next meeting is Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. in the board meeting room at the elementary building.