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Norton board approves five-year forecast

10/18/2012 - West Side Leader
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By John Benson

The Norton City Schools Board of Education approved Treasurer Stephanie Hagenbush’s five-year forecast during the Oct. 15 meeting.

“Right now through [the] 2013-14 [school year] we’ll be in the black; however, in the 2014-15 [school year], we’re showing a negative balance,” said Hagenbush, who detailed how, based on state funding cuts, the district has lost $1.7 million in revenue in recent years.

To offset the losses, Hagenbush said the district employed pay freezes with unions, restructured employee health insurance plans and either eliminated or consolidated positions, when possible, for a total savings of $6 million over the past five years.

She also said not only does Norton City Schools have the lowest cost-per-pupil rate, $8,565 per student, in Summit County, but the last time the district went to the people for an operating levy in 2004 it was predicted at that time to last four years. Instead, it has lasted eight years, she said.

Now the district is asking voters to approve Issue No. 66, a 1.9-mill continuing levy that would cost the owner of $100,000 in property about $58 a year, to help the district maintain its current slate of programs. The levy would generate $534,903 a year and operate the school district through the 2015-16 school year, Hagenbush said.

Also at the meeting, Grill Elementary School parent Karen Polaschak spoke to the board regarding the new recess policy at her daughter’s school.

“Currently at Grill, children have to do a lap for their recess time,” Polaschak said. “This is taking away from their recess time, where they need social interaction with other children. They need that mental break during the day. Let them have the chance to play. I see no need for them to have to do laps every single day.”

In response to Polaschak’s comments, Grill Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Abernathy said she praised the efforts of Principal Brady Sackett.

“He’s encouraging kids to exercise,” Abernathy said. “They get 30 minutes a week of [physical education]. He’s encouraging them to walk a couple of laps, which is an eighth of a mile, during recess. It’s good for the kids. I think what’s going on at Grill is wonderful.”

In other business, the district’s Student of the Month designations were presented.

Primary Elementary Principal Eric Morris named kindergartener Gianna Pennell.

“Gianna was nominated by two kindergarten teachers,” Morris said. “She’s very kind and helpful and always does nice things for others. She’s an inspiration to all of those around her.”

Cornerstone Elementary Principal Julie Gulley talked about the third-grader Nicholas Aiken.

“Nick is positively proactive,” she said. “His can-do attitude shines. He enjoys sports and broke his arm playing baseball earlier this year. He missed an entire week of school and was caught up academically when he returned. His positive attitude is contagious.”

Third-grader Riley Merz was named by Sackett as Grill’s Student of the Month.

“She’s very considerate,” he said. “Riley is truly a leader, she can always find ways of helping others.”

Math teacher Rod Rowell said he nominated 11th-grader Thomas Ezell as an out-of-the-box choice for Norton High School’s Student of the Month.

“Thomas was torn between two paths, a high school dropout and another road sticking it out,” Rowell said. “I didn’t expect to see him back this year. From the first day of school I had a brand new Tom. He was determined to get out of high school and not just in my class, but he’s very motivated in all of his classes. And that’s something I can get behind as a teacher.”

Norton Middle School Principal Joyce Gerber discussed eighth-grader Justin Csepe, who was that school’s Student of the Month.

“He was described as respectful and kindhearted, friendly, polite, creative and talented,” she said. “He’s an outstanding singer and a positive role model.”

The next school board meeting is set for Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Cornerstone Elementary, 4138 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road.

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