By MORGAN MANNS
Fostoria City Schools’ Board of Education said goodbye to a longtime member Friday.
The board wished Anthony Thompson farewell as he wrapped up his last meeting and the last meeting of the year.
Thompson will not resume his position as a board member in 2018 as Fostorian Heidi Kauffman will take his seat. Kauffman won the four-year board term in the Nov. 7 general election.
Returning board members expressed their appreciation for Thompson’s service to the district and presented him with a token of that appreciation at the conclusion of the board meeting.
“Eight years ago we started our journey on this board together and unfortunately it’s coming to an end,” fellow board member Sharon Stannard said, after calling Thompson to the front of the room. “I hope you stay involved because you are critical to this school district and this community.”
“It’s been a wild ride,” board President Dr. Tom Guernsey said, taking over for Stannard who said she might cry if she continued. “We’re really going to miss having you on board but we hope you stay active and involved as much as you can.”
Each board member shook Thompson’s hand and sent him well wishes.
Although his time on the board has ended, he said he will continue to be a part of the school district and is confident he has left his comrades in a position to continue moving the district forward.
“I appreciate all of my time here,” Thompson said at the end of the meeting. “We’ve had our ups and downs and tough spots but I really feel the board has come out on top and flourished. It’s for the kids; that’s what it’s all about. This district is poised to do great things.”
Separately, Superintendent Andrew Sprang gave a report on what the district can expect in 2018.
An all-day summit event is scheduled in February when the district hopes to bring in city officials, local business leaders and area school officials as well as state education and political leaders to look at the progress the district has made.
The event will be invite-only and will showcase the “good work going on in the district,” according to Sprang.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution, a goal-setting process that narrows the focus of the district down to the top two most important tasks to be completed on a weekly basis, will be highlighted at the event. It comes as an adult extension to the Leader in Me initiative established at the elementary levels nearly three years ago.
“If we’re asking our kids to do it, then we should too,” Sprang said. “Then we’re truly modeling the behavior and goal-setting we expect of our students.”
Continuing with goal-setting, the district will also revise its three-year strategic plan known as the Ohio Improvement Plan. The plan addresses goals in the areas of reading and math along with climate and culture across the district, focusing on staff development, grant writing and securing federal funds.
Sprang said the goal is to have this plan completed by spring to implement it in the next academic year.
Other projects scheduled for the new year include enhancements to course offerings and a revision of the district calendar.
In partnership with the newly opened Fostoria Learning Center, the district is working to utilize space and partnerships with local higher education institutions to expand student opportunities in the College Credit Plus program. Sprang said many pathways are being explored and more information would be divulged in the second half of the school year.
The calendar revision will accommodate the new building project. The next construction phase will begin in the spring and Sprang said the district is looking at a Labor Day to Memorial Day calendar for the next couple of years.
One of the projects within the building project is the structuring of a history or legacy wall. Sprang said the district is collecting artifacts to incorporate into the wall and are asking community members with any old pictures or memorabilia to consider loaning or donating the items or making copies of the photos for school use.
“Our goal is to have something from every building in our district’s history on this wall,” he said, noting anything donated would be labeled as so and to who it belongs. “Sharing our backstory is something we really want to incorporate into this new building.”
Also during the meeting, Treasurer Sue Lehmann gave the second half of a two-part report regarding the district’s state funding.
Last month, Lehmann discussed the FY18 funding formula and the two methods the state uses to correct irregularities in the formula.
The first is the cap, on which the district is funded. Another method is the guarantee, which guarantees the district will receive the same amount of funding as the year prior.
This year, 73 percent of districts are funded on one of these two formulas as opposed to 48 percent last year.
According to Lehmann, this is due to the changes in valuations of property, as agricultural values are declining while residential values are rising.
Of the 41 counties going through reappraisal or a triennial update, 11 are expected to have double digit increases in their residential values, according to Lehmann. She provided a chart with the valuations from 2015-2017 for Hancock and Seneca counties, which rose in 2016 and 2017, respectively, as well as Wood County, which dropped in 2017.
“You might hear your friends or neighbors discuss that they experienced an increase in their property values and when you hear this, you should be able to say, ‘Yes, that’s correct. You probably did.’ Because it’s indicative of what’s happening throughout the entire state,” she said. “It’s really just a redistribution. It’s not that we collect more money. People think their values went up and maybe their tax bill went up and then they think we’re getting more money but we’re not. It’s just a redistribution of how that money is collected through this process.”
While these changes overtime won’t greatly affect Fostoria, Lehmann said they will impact area rural school districts as the agricultural values continue to decline and “further exacerbate formula fixes in place.”
“As a treasurer of a school district that relies heavily on state and federal funding, this concerns me,” she said. “I’m very uncertain about what the future holds for the funding formula. It certainly looks like it needs reset.”
More information will be noted in the 5-year forecast as well as the district’s insert in Thursday’s edition of the Review Times.
In other business, the board:
• Accepted a donation to the Jack and Carolyn Markoff Endowment Award Fund from Nicholas and Ashleigh Wirtner and Gary and Ellen Markoff.
• Accepted a donation of $25,000 from Medical Mutual.
• Went into a 30-minute executive session for the purpose of “consideration of the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion or compensation of an employee, student or school official.” Sprang said the district is looking into potentially revising a policy that deals with how the district addresses staffing. No action was taken.
• Selected Guernsey as President Pro-Tem for the meetings in January. The 2018 tax budget hearing will take place at 6 p.m. Jan. 10, followed by the 2018 organizational meeting at 6:05 p.m. and the regular board meeting at 6:15 p.m.
The meetings will take place in the board room at FJSHS, 1001 Park Ave.