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Revere officials give district overview at community meeting

10/25/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

RICHFIELD — With just a handful of community members in the audience for the Revere Local School District’s Oct. 16 State of the District presentation, Superintendent Randy Boroff looked at the bright side.

“To me it says people are satisfied and there aren’t many issues in the district,” Boroff said as he began the presentation with Treasurer David Forrest that highlighted the district’s accomplishments and challenges.

Boroff said the idea for the community meeting came from the effort to create a strategic plan in the district in the past year. Over a series of four meetings, between 70 and 80 community members collaborated to create the plan, which will serve as a guide for the district over the next few years, Boroff said.

One of the strategic priorities of the plan is community engagement, which includes expanding on communication about the district to the community.

One of the other priorities is to provide the facilities and infrastructure needed to meet the highest level of academic and curricular needs. Boroff said to meet that goal the district has set about completing many improvements recently, such as roof repairs, new asphalt in parking lots and new windows.

He added the district is heeding the request of many in the community that it should work with what it has rather than consider any new buildings.

“People understand renovation and expansion more than tearing down and replacing,” Boroff said.

During his remarks, which focused more on the financial workings of the district, Forrest said compared to many local districts, Revere is “in such a fortunate position.” Most of that is due to the community’s support of levies, such as the emergency levy that passed in 2011.

“We’re succeeding because you support education and our kids come to school prepared,” he said. “We are very fortunate to have the resources and the things you support us with.”

Forrest said the district has a General Fund budget of $32 million. The new levy has helped, especially since the district has lost about $2.2 million through property devaluation and the loss of funding from the state’s tangible property tax and public utility tax.

The district also has seen a slight rise in health care costs, but that has been contained through participation in a health care consortium with five other local districts, Forrest said.

One unknown for the coming year, he said, is what affect changes to the state pension plans will have on personnel. The changes could impact the number of retirements in the coming year, he added.

Forrest said he feels confident the district will be able to refrain from asking for new money from voters through the next five years, possibly more thanks to reserves that have been built up. There will likely be a levy renewal before the community in the 2015-16 school year, he added.

Another unknown Forrest noted is the potential introduction of a voucher program in the state that would allow any student in a district to attend school in another district.

“School choice is on the horizon,” Forrest said. “It could have a significant impact on us financially.”

When the forum opened to the audience for questions, one community member asked what the district is doing to keep students in the district once they enter high school.

Boroff said in a typical year, the district loses about 25 students to private schools from eighth grade to ninth grade. This year, there were 30 students that moved on to other schools, he said.

With the Revere High School football team with one win and the Revere Middle School football team undefeated, Boroff said it’s important to look at the bigger picture.

“We have to have community members say, ‘It’s a bad year, but we’re not leaving,’” he said.

He said the middle school’s administrators are making an effort to meet with students in eighth grade and talk about their experience. The high school’s teachers and coaches also are planning to engage with the middle school students more, he added.

Boroff admitted it might be a flippant attitude, but he doesn’t see why students choose to leave the district.

“This is one of the best places in the state,” he said “Where are you going?”

He said that all students who decided to leave for different high schools were surveyed, and there was no single reason everyone gave as to why they made their decision.

“It’s not an outrageous amount,” he said of the 30 that left, “but it is a concern to us.”

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