Community involvement in schools is critical.
National research shows that the more parents and local residents actively participate in events, initiatives and volunteering, the more likely student achievement is to increase. As student success rises, so too does the value of our towns and properties.
And so goes the saying: It takes a village to raise a child.
We have more than 1,300 students right now and we certainly have our villages, folks in the country and neighborhoods full of people. That gives Madison-Plains wealth in numbers and outstanding potential.
Yet, the district is faced with a deficit at the end of next school year which leads to two options: raise new revenue with community support or make drastic cuts to our programming.
We have stretched dollars as thinly as possible through attrition, capping insurance expenditures, reducing cost of living pay increases through support of our collective bargaining agreements, streamlining daily business operations and restructuring our administrative team (shifting from four head principals to two principals and two assistants), for example.
Madison-Plains has also operated without any new money since 2005. This will translate into more than 13 years by the time any new dollars could be collected — nearly unheard of in nearby districts or across the state.
Now the Board of Education must act, and as the Superintendent, along with my colleague Treasurer/CFO Todd Mustain, we must give the members our recommendations on how to move forward … with and without new funding.
We all know we will not be able to continue to offer the same level of programming without new money. There is no way around that.
The Board will decide by February to be on the May ballot and what that issue will look like. But in accordance with Ohio law, we must inform staff by April — prior to any election — whether there will be a job for them when our doors open in the fall.
State law also dictates we cannot start a school year in the red. We must fiscally be solvent for the entire year in order to operate under Ohio’s statutes.
That means we must come up with a detailed plan that identifies cost reductions that would go into place as soon as this school year ends. This is a difficult task, to say the least.
The Board of Education has been discussing our options for addressing our pending fiscal cliff. The board and I now are soliciting your input and are extremely open to your feedback. We sent an email to all addresses we have registered in our system and we posted a request on the Superintendent’s Blog, Facebook and Twitter asking what you might do to resolve a deficit.
It does take a village to raise a child, and a community full of parents and residents to help hold up a school district.
Thank you for your support in our journey to provide the best education possible for our future leaders.
Tim Dettwiller is the superintendent of Madison-Plains Local Schools. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 740-490-0614.