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Wadsworth Schools plan boosts arts, phys ed

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    Andrew Hill

    GAZETTE FILE

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WADSWORTH — Wadsworth Schools is proposing numerous new positions across the district that could cost the district nearly $500,000, Treasurer Doug Beeman said recently.

Recommendations from the Curricular Review and Fine Arts Committee with a financial impact were made during a recent school board meeting and include additional positions in the areas of art, music and physical education at the elementary level.

“What this will do is allow us to be able to have kindergarten students have the same amount of art, music and physical education as students that are in grades one to four,” Superintendent Andrew Hill said to board members.

Hill said the district currently employs individuals part time in those areas, and it is not yet determined if the district will make certain positions full time, or add additional part-time employees.

“The other recommendation that has a financial implication coming from the Curricular Review and Fine Arts Committee is to increase staffing at the middle school for choir to a full-time equivalent,” Hill said.

Hill said this move would allow current high school choir teacher Kalyn Davis to be full time.

“It could be that somebody moves full time at the middle school if given the ability to move forward with this, it could be that there could be part-time jobs that are set up,” Hill said.

“The idea here is that the need for choir; our choir has grown, which is a great thing for our school district, but we are in a position now where we really feel we need to have a full-time person both at the middle and the high schools in order to accommodate the demand that we have from our students,” Hill added.

Recommendations made by the Extracurricular Review Committee include adding paid supplemental instructors for a science technology, engineering and math (STEM) or science club at each district building.

Hill said he believes only one building currently has such a position.

Supplemental instructors are also recommended for chess club at every school building and drama club at the elementary levels.

“We already have supplemental (employees) that address drama club at the middle and the high school,” Hill said. “We would envision one supplemental (employee) that would encompass kindergarten through sixth grade, to allow for some type of a drama organization for our K-6 students.”

Recommendations for other supplemental contracts are for middle school band and choir concerts, a drama department chairperson and a strength and conditioning coach.

The Mental Health Committee, established late last year, has not quite finalized its work at this time, Hill said.

“We have gotten to the point where we have done a pretty thorough gap analysis of where we feel like improvements can be made to enhance what we offer to students, but we have not been able to work and finalize and prioritize the different things that are coming out of that committee yet,” Hill said.

Hill said that while the committee has earmarked some funding for additional staffing, those recommendations could change in the future.

Hill said funding changes could also be coming to the high school lacrosse program next year.

High school lacrosse was introduced as a club sport at no cost to the district, but over time the district has “share funded” the program by absorbing transportation and other costs. Hill said the district is recommending it fully fund the high school program as it does other varsity level sports.

The proposed changes could also impact students in the classrooms.

“We know that based upon our numbers that we will need to add an elementary school, kindergarten through fourth grade, multiple disability teacher for the upcoming school year,” Hill said. “In order for us to be able to offer the services that are required for students and to remain in compliance with state and federal law, this position is an absolute necessity.”

Hill said the district’s intention is for this position to be based at Valley View Elementary School, which currently has two disability units.

Beeman said while the 2019-23 five-year plan does allocate funding for additional staffing, it was not to the proposed level. As such, board members did not finalize any potential hires during the meeting.

Hill said the district was not seeking any type of formal approval at that time.

“What we are looking for tonight is your verbal approval or nonapproval of what we are proposing, so we can get moving on things,” Hill said

Beeman said the district will fund the staff additions by transferring nearly $600,000 from its textbook fund to the district’s sales tax fund, he said.

“That is an allowable expenditure of the Medina County sales tax fund,” Beeman said. “That would help us alleviate the cost of implementing these staffing increases in future years.”

Beeman said the district is aware that the district will enter deficit spending next year.

“We are very cognizant of that as we look forward to the future and whatever that future may hold as far as revenue sources and our expenditures, and the possibility that some day return to the voters for some kind of a levy,” Beeman said.

With the proposed staffing changes to the district, it will see total revenue of $46,644,151 with expenditures totaling $50,630,421 for fiscal year 2020.

The district is expected to begin the year with a cash balance of $18,047,246 and end the year with a balance of $14,060,976.

The two primary reasons why Wadsworth Schools will enter deficit spending include the length of time since its last operating levy, and stagnant state aid, Beeman said.

“State aid is about 45 percent of our revenue,” he said Friday. “… Obviously our expenses increase every year with teacher contracts and other expenses due to inflation.”

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.
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