South Range superintendent gets contract extension

By Amanda Tonoli


South Range School District’s board of education approved a three-year contract extension and $10,000 salary raise for Superintendent Dennis Dunham.

Board President Ralph Wince said despite the pay raise from $79,900 to $89,900, Dunham is “still the cheapest [paid] superintendent in Mahoning County.”

Dunham has been superintendent in South Range School District since Aug. 1, 2006, and Wince said the board is prepared to begin the process to replace him when he reaches his 13 years with the district.

In other news, Treasurer Jim Phillips announced the district’s five-year forecast looks optimistic until 2021, when the budget is predicted to be $375,000 in the red.

Phillips credited the positive outlook to open-enrollment revenue – something he said has kept a levy request at bay.

Open enrollment generated $1.5 million in the 2016 fiscal year, which ended June 30.

Phillips forecasted about a $145,000 increase each year, generating $2.3 million by 2021.

“Open enrollment has been very good to us,” he said. “It helps to keep residents and me personally from paying additional mills on my taxes. It helps to keep us operating.”

He said he hoped open enrollment would continue to grow beyond his “conservative” 25-open-enrollment-student increase prediction to continue operating in the black for the sake of the students.

“We are not allowed to operate in the red,” he said. “We need to do something come 2021, whether it be cut expenses or generate revenue. I don’t want to cut expenses because expenses are programs and programs are our kids.”

Shari Lewis, curriculum, instruction and special-education specialist, continued the second of her six-part series by discussing those school programs and ways to boost South Range’s report-card grades issued by the Ohio Department of Education.

The report includes grades for districts and schools based on various components for the 2015-16 school year.

The components are Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation Rate and Prepared for Success and K-3 Literacy.

South Range School District’s grades in those components were B, D, D, A and C.

“We are looking at what we can do differently to help our students achieve and be successful,” she said.