GIRARD SCHOOLS District faces fiscal-caution status

The superintendent says three teachers will probably be furloughed.
GIRARD -- Superintendent Marty Santillo says the school district has been placed in fiscal caution and a levy must be placed on the fall ballot.
Santillo told the board of education Wednesday that the Ohio Department of Education has issued the caution because the district can't show it will be operating in the black for the next five years.
The board voted to lay off seven teachers at the end of the school year because of declining enrollment.
The contract with the Girard Teachers Association calls for layoffs to be announced by April 1 or the district can't furlough any teachers next year.
The layoffs include five elementary teachers and four special-education teachers and are based on seniority.
Santillo said the district will end the school year $458,000 in the red, including the loss of $88,000 in state funds. That will jump to $1.57 million next year, including a $170,000 shortfall in state money.
The district could find an immediate short-term solution, Santillo explained, if $2.5 million it has been reimbursed by the state for construction of the new intermediate school can be used for operating expense rather than capital improvements.
The district is waiting for an opinion on the question.
Need for levy
But the superintendent said a levy is necessary because an operating levy hasn't been approved by voters since 1988, although a building issue was approved.
"We need to address the problem now," Santillo stressed.
Despite voting to approve the layoffs of seven teachers, Santillo said three will actually be furloughed from next year's staff.
He said enrollment has declined during the past three years and kindergarten registration fell to 50, half of what it was.
The only dissenting vote to reduce staff came from board President Jane Harris, a retired teacher.
"This is the worst thing a board of education can do," Harris said, adding that she understood the action had to be taken.
Julie Medicus, GTA president, called on the board not to lay off any teachers. She said the move was not "educationally sound" and layoffs could negatively influence proficiency tests results and state school report cards.
Firm hired
In another matter, the board agreed to hire the architectural firm of Feinknopf, Macioce, Schappa Inc. and M Engineering Inc. to review the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at the intermediate school.
Because of health issues at the school, resulting in its temporary closing, the duct work was replaced in addition to other remedial work.
The companies will determine if the systems were properly designed and installed as a prelude to possible legal action being taken by the board.
Also, the board approved a five-year contract with elementary school principal Joanne Carmello, effective Aug. 1. Carmello, who has been with the district 31 years, will be paid $70,289 the first year.
In addition, the board accepted retirements of Margaret L. Jay, who has been school nurse for 35 years, and Gloria Jeswald, a cafeteria helper for 17 years.