By Christine Bryant
The Reynoldsburg Board of Education approved a deal with a local human resources consulting firm that will give the district the tools it needs to recruit better and develop a more technologically advanced information system.
The nearly $80,000 contract with CMax Advisors is needed, board members said, considering the human resources department currently operates using outdated technology and struggles to recruit educators, especially substitute teachers.
“A lot of our systems are pieces of paper in a file cabinet, which is disturbing from an IT perspective,” board vice president Rob Truex said at the board’s Jan. 19 meeting.
The contract, which is expected to end in September, focuses on improving four main areas: centralizing the recruiting process for new teachers and administrators, implementing a sub recruiting process to increase the candidate pipeline, developing a comprehensive onboarding process for all staff and volunteers, and assisting in defining requirements and planning implementation of a new HR Information System.
The agreement calls for nearly 1,200 hours of consultation, coordination and delivery of these new practices by CMax Advisors – an aggressive plan and schedule, Truex said.
“We will hold them to the September deadline,” he said.
Board member Neal Whitman said he looked at other options, but determined this was the best course of action for the district. Although Reynoldsburg City Schools recently hired a new human resources director, Whitman said the project of revamping the entire system is too much for one person, who must focus on day-to-day human resources needs.
He also looked into hiring additional HR staff, but those positions would increase costs in the long-term because they would remain on payroll past September.
Board member Debbie Dunlap said the move will help the district accomplish its strategic objectives.
“I’m hoping we come out with a better and stronger HR department,” she said.
Open enrollment update
The board discussed the district’s open enrollment policy following a presentation that showed the number of students who entered from outside the district this year rose to 655 – up from 44 over last year.
When several of the board members campaigned last year for their seats on the board, the district’s open enrollment policy was a popular topic among residents they engaged.
While some supported the district’s policy, others were concerned that opening up spots for students outside the district would have a negative effect on current students.
At the Jan. 19 meeting, however, board members expressed their support for the program, which has generated millions for the district in revenue, including an expected $3.8 million this year.
Though some residents expressed concerns over behavioral issues among students coming into the district, a report showed discipline problems are not higher among open enrollment students.
Board member Elaine Tornero said although the revenue generated by the open enrollment program is a benefit to the district, the school system is in the business of educating students.
“It’s a win for families who are looking for something better for their kids,” she said.
Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning said the report presented at the meeting dispels myths related to open enrollment students.
“I’m very proud we open our doors to students to give them opportunities we give to our in resident students,” she said. “We are a district that prides itself on sharing our knowledge.”
Other school news
•Thomas-Manning presented 58 performance bonus checks to teachers in attendance. More than 80 educators or those nominating them submitted applications to a three-person panel outside the district. The applications included supporting documentation showing why the teachers went above and beyond.
•The board approved spending a portion of the funds received from a contract with Coca-Cola. The board voted to continue discussing how the district will spend the funds generated by the contract, which includes $20,000 in annual revenue and a one-time signing bonus of $10,000. The board, however, approved allocating $2,500 to the superintendent’s fund to spend on food at an upcoming training event for teachers and community outreach.
•The board approved educational travel for the district’s Robotics Team to head to Cleveland and Cincinnati in March and April for competition.
•The board honored Reynoldsburg student Jaret Crist with a certificate of recognition for his winning essay in the 2016 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Art, Writing and Multimedia Contest. Crist, who read his essay at the meeting, focused on spreading joy with small acts of kindness that can make a big difference.