By Linda Dillman
Sometimes good intentions can be costly, a lesson the Reynoldsburg Board of Education learned after seeing the bill for moving board meetings around to varying locations during the previous school year.
During its Aug. 16 school board meeting, board member Debbie Dunlap said she was “taken aback about the incredible amount of dollars and work” involved in setting up and breaking down temporary meeting sites across the district.
At an average cost of $733 per meeting site, it cost the district approximately $3,700 in employee compensation for the five meeting local building series intended to bring board activity closer to the community it serves.
School board meetings are normally held in Reynoldsburg City Council chambers, located at 7232 E. Main St., at no cost to the district.
Some buildings are more conducive to hosting board meetings and minimal set-up is necessary, while others demand more attention and planning, such as transporting additional seating and setting up an audio system.
Although expressing shock at the price tag, Dunlap said if the process was streamlined and related costs brought down, she felt the endeavor was worth the effort.
“I’ve gotten positive feedback,” Dunlap said. “I’m still going to advocate moving this (monthly meetings) around to different buildings. The longer we do it, the more efficient we become at it.”
However, fellow board members were not so quick to jump on the bandwagon.
Board member Elaine Tornero said she has strong feelings against the idea. Citing costs concerns and the predictability of holding meetings in the same location, Tornero said the board should stay at city hall.
“I don’t know how much it (moving meetings around the district) showcases the schools,” said Tornero. “Just turning off the lights (at city hall) and we’re done is more valuable to me.”
Board President Joe Begeny said while the process affords board members and the community an opportunity to visit schools they might not see otherwise, the cost and confusion associated with varying meeting locations are considerations.
“It’s a tough decision for me,” said Begeny before the board voted to keep the meetings in the city council chambers for the 2016-17 school year, “but due to the nature of the cost, I am in favor of staying at city hall.”