Coventry district pushing for passage of levy
The Coventry Local Schools Board of Education would like to see the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) place a small crimson circle on Coventry Township, marking a new educational facility.
“I want a red dot. I desperately want a red dot,” said board member Tina Gable. “Coventry will never look the same. We have the opportunity to do what is right for the kids of Coventry for now and for the future.”
The board used a portion of the July 17 meeting to collectively ask district residents one last time to vote “yes” for Issue No. 4, a combined 5.99-mill levy and bond issue that would help fund the construction of a new high school and renovations to existing school buildings.
Emotions ran high as board members explained how the issue on the Aug. 7 Special Election ballot would significantly impact the entire community, if it is approved by voters.
“We could get a real high school for our kids,” Gable said during the meeting held at the present high school. “Right now, we are sitting in a renovated nightclub.”
The OSFC — an independent state agency that helps fund the construction of new schools or renovations to existing ones to improve the education experience — is offering the district $11 million toward a $39.3 million construction and renovation project.
“It is an $11 million gift from the state of Ohio, and this community has never seen that kind of money given to us,” said board member Robert Wohlgamuth. “We can build a new school and upgrade our schools like other communities around us have gotten to do, and improve the learning environment and property values. It is something this community has needed for a long, long time.”
The OSFC’s map features red dots all around Coventry, showing new schools and those under construction — in communities including Barberton, Lakemore and Rittman — due to money the school districts received through the state agency.
“I want a red dot, too,” said board President David Andrews said. “This is the time and place to do that.”
He expressed excitement toward the work of the Red Dot Campaign, a group of district employees and parents and other community members volunteering their time to get the word out about Issue No. 4.
Andrews said “red dot yard signs are coming out now,” and he is thrilled to see the support being generated.
He said every resident could expect a knock on the door from a campaign volunteer, as they travel around the community seeking support and answering questions about the issue.
Andrews added those with questions about the issue could visit www.supportcoventry.com to obtain information.
District officials have said the construction and renovation project would include the construction of a state-of-the-art high school for ninth through 12th grades, including a new high school gymnasium, at the site of the current Erwine Intermediate School, which would be demolished as part of the project.
Additionally, the elementary schools would be consolidated and housed in the current high school, which would be transformed into a state-of-the-art elementary school for kindergarten through fifth grades.
The plan also calls for numerous improvements to Coventry Middle School, including a new heating and cooling system, new roof and additional classrooms.
If the issue is passed, Treasurer Aaron Butts has estimated the district would save $600,000 a year, an amount currently being paid annually in repairs to the current, deteriorating buildings. He said the money now spent keeping the buildings in operation could be used to save future jobs.
Saving money was the theme of the remainder of the July 17 meeting.
The board approved hiring a part-time financial assistant in the treasurer’s office. Butts explained the district would be bringing payroll back in-house, as the work was contracted out to the Summit County Educational Service Center. He said the change would save the district $12,000 a year and bring back the “personal touch” lacking by having someone outside the district taking care of payroll.
The board also approved the district’s participation in the Ohio School Council’s Cooperative Purchasing Program at a cost of about $887 so the district could take advantage of bulk pricing for cafeteria items needed for the 2012-13 school year. Butts said the fee for the program is expected to be recovered within the first three months of the school year.
In addition July 17, the board agreed to re-employ Audrey Baker as a speech and hearing specialist at Turkeyfoot Elementary School. Superintendent Russell Chaboudy explained Baker retired but expressed a desire to return to the position. By not having to provide benefits, rehiring Baker would create a financial savings to the district, he said.
The board also approved a one-year contract with Waste Management for $850 a month for garbage collection. Chaboudy said this was the cheapest avenue for trash removal possible, and the price was made available through the district’s participation in the Stark County Schools Council.
Also during the meeting, Butts informed the board he recently closed out fiscal year 2012 and was happy to report a cash balance of about $638,000, the highest balance in four years.
“We are making progress with turning the financial picture around for Coventry Local Schools,” he said. “It takes a while to turn it around, like a big ship, but we are turning it around.”
At the close of the meeting, an executive session was held, with no action taken, to discuss potential legal proceedings.
The next regular Coventry school board meeting is set for Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. at Coventry High School, 3089 Manchester Road.
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