April 18, 2014

Intermittent clouds

Buckeye Local school board reduces pay-to-play fees

YORK TWP.— New Buckeye Local school board member Jon Stahl’s first motion as a board member Tuesday night brought him something some board members go their entire careers without hearing: applause.

That’s because his first act was to put forth a resolution to lower pay-to-partici­pate fees retroactive to fall 2010 sports, including band. The motion passed unani­mously.



About 250 Buckeye athletes and band members will be reim­bursed a portion of their pay-to-participate fees after they were lowered from $600 to $395 at the high school and from $450 to $295 at the junior high.

“This will ease some of the burden of the parents and increase participa­tion,” Stahl said. “That’s what will move Buckeye forward.” Superintendent Dennis Honkala said Thursday that he and Athletic Director Glen Reisner are still working out the details of how the students and their fami­lies will be repaid.

Students may have the option of putting the money toward a second or third sport, he said, in which case they would not get a check in the mail.

“We have several students on payment plans,” Honkala said. “A lot of the work is going to be to alter those payment plans.

“It’s going to be a couple of weeks before we iron everything out.”

The fees are back to where they were last year before an increase. High school ath­letes and band participants will now pay $395 for their first activity, $295 for their second and $195 for their third. At the jun­ior high, students will pay $295, $195 and $95, respec­tively.

There is a cap of $1,600 per family.

The resolution did not waive fees for students who are on federal free lunch programs, even though that was part of the original deal, because booster club members at the meeting said the clubs would be able to help support stu­dents who struggle economi­cally.

The resolution came min­utes after the board voted to take a 1 percent earned income tax off the Nov. 2 ballot.

Treasurer Carolyn Weglewski presented an updated five-year forecast for the district, which showed Buckeye does not have a $1.2 million deficit as previ­ously advertised, and that the district is in fact about $6,200 in the black.

The newfound money, Weglewski said, came mostly from delinquent taxes that were collected and federal stimulus funds.

The Ohio Department of Education placed Buckeye on fiscal caution in April 2009, which means the state now looks over the district’s finances each month. Buckeye voters have not approved new operating money in 16 years.

The projected surplus, how­ever, assumed a zero-percent increase in staff and other expenses. By refunding Buck­eye’s nearly 255 fall student athletes between $150 and $200 each, the district will lose between $40,000 and $50,000.

As part of her financial pro­jections, Weglewski said the district would have made an additional $90,000 if pay-to­-participate fees had stayed at $450 for junior high and $600 for high school students. Despite that loss, Weglewski said Thursday that with lower fees, participation will hope­fully go up, making the overall loss smaller.

The board also informally made a recommendation to the superintendent on Tuesday to come to the next board meeting with a list of personnel he feels should be brought back.

While an accurate prediction about the district’s financial future is difficult to make, Board President Gary Horton said he hopes to not have to raise the fees back up to $600 any time in the near future.

“We’ve had a steady decline in participation, although this fall has been fairly even, except for band,” Horton said. “In light of the positive changes in revenue recently, we believed we could help some of the fam­ilies in this district to return these fees to a more reasonable level.”

Reisner declined comment for this story.

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.

  • djea56

    Kudos to Mr. Stahl on his ability to grandstand right out of the chute. He played to the crowd excellently, but that is not always a good way to go since the crowd changes as the hot button issues change from meeting to meeting. And remember the people at any given meeting are only a small percentage of the voting public and do not necessarily speak for the majority of the voters in the district. Your Dick’s marketing skills will only carry you so far, common sense and the ability to make tough decisions during your tenure will serve you better.

    After refunding that money and having the superintendent make recommendations to the Board on which staff to hire back, I am wondering how long that $6,200 surplus will last. The better question is if the Board puts the District back in the red will Ms. Weglewski still be the fall guy for the so called “fluid numbers” in the projections?

    I think that meeting was a quick fix to take the pressure off from the parents who have children in the band and athletics. What are you going to do for the parents who have children focused on academics? Mr. Mueller and Mr. Sikora appointed themselves the saviors of the district and they do not represent all the tax payers in the district either. I think another way you could save about $25,000 of tax payer money is to tell the County School Board you don’t need Ken Woodruff being a cheerleader and spreading misinformation in his emails. Between the school system and the levy committee I would think you can get your message out.

    The people haven’t and most likely in the near future will not vote to tax themselves no matter what the financial forecast of the district. Why? Because they can. People are tired of being taxed in general and they take it out on schools across the state, not just in the Buckeye District. They have proven that for years now. There have been several superintendents and many different board members in the many years since a new levy was passed. Laying the failure of a levy at the feet of one person doesn’t seem to me to be the answer. Maybe everyone should take their outrage and lay it at the feet of the people who inhabit the State House in Columbus. Maybe then they will take the initiative to change the way that schools are funded in this state. Other states have different ways of funding their schools, maybe Ohio could look around and find one that works better than making the School Boards and Superintendents professional fundraisers. With apologies to Dennis Miller, ‘Hey that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong’.

  • interested

    Guy – I too agree that the meeting was a quick fix to take the pressure off. I don’t think the “numbers were crunched” or a procedure thought through as to how this change would effect or be carried out in our district. Being apart of both the athletic group and academic group, I know I was shocked at the resolution just because we are all of the sudden in the black. Happy – a little bit. Does it feel like a “windfall”, sure, but at what cost? We don’t know that because it wasn’t presented.

    I also agree that laying the faliure of any levy at the feet of one person doesn’t seem to be the answer. I have been ‘awakened’ to have more questions for our district in recent months. Some already asked with confusing answers. I love this community and our schools and have hope that things will turn around. I wish we could fix the broken state funding system. I write letters to our senators but like many – I imagine – are left unanswered. But at least we can try. Unfortunately, the state throws the burden on the local districts, of which are already so heavily burdened.

    I am seeking out the facts so that I may form an informed opinion. I am a parent who wants whats best for my children. So far, things seem to be disjointed but look forward to seeing more things come to light I guess? We do have a problem, what it is will probably be a combination of several factors. I don’t think it is only due to the State and its messed up system. Either way, our district needs change. Unfortunately, I just don’t have a clear understanding of what that is yet. Where’s that majic wand when you need one? Wish I had one……would make things much easier for us….

  • buck4life

    It is troubling that people are complaining about someone pointing out mistakes made by people who should be answering to the people of the district. The levy committee was pushing the levy because they believed Buckeye needed a levy. The likes of Ken Woodruff, Dave Mueller, and John Sikora believed the facts they were being given. Once they discovered the inaccurate information they were receiving they questioned it. That is exactly what the Buckeye Community should want and expect. The Buckeye supporters believed we needed a levy. We/I voted for the Buckeye levy. We all now know the need for a levy is questionable at best. The bottom line is credibility is a problem. If you are not credible to the community, you are ineffective. You will never pass a levy unitl you become credible and fiscally responsible. Dont question the integrity of the Dave Muellers, John Sikora’s, and Ken Woodruffs because they are pointing out the mistakes/incompetence uncovered while trying to promote a levy. Ken Woodruff has given more to Buckeye than anyone else could hope to ever give. When he was a teacher he was the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave. Dont drag Ken Woodruff’s name through the mud because he helped to point out an incompetent treasurer. We need more people like Ken Woodruff and the likes who were honest enough to say something isnt adding up. The employees of the school district are accountable to the tax payers of Buckeye. The community will not be satisfied with anything less than fixing the problem. Let’s start over with a new treasurer, superintendent, and the board. You have lost the confidence of the Buckeye Community who always has supported you. RESIGN OR BE FIRED!!!!!!

  • curious

    It’s more than credibility. It is about trust. We cannot trust the current superintendent, board, and treasurer. They will never be able to rebuild the trust they have lost over the past three years. Trust was very weak before, but now it is lost. This latest fiasco with the budget shortfall vs. no shortfall reinforces the ineptness of the current leadership…. I agree with SM— do our distict the greatest service you can: resign or be fired.