MOUNT GILEAD — The Mount Gilead School Board looked towards the future at their May 18 meeting with reports of new summer and fall enrichment program for students, a grant for new computers, and a positive five-year financial forecast.

Director of Student Services Molly Clapper reported that 93 elementary students are registered for the new summer enrichment program. The program will be managed by the Galion YMCA and it will be entirely paid for with federal Elementary and Secondary Student Emergency Relief funds (ESSER.)

In other business:

• The board approved the purchase of technology equipment for students in the amount of $504,500. Clapper said this will include laptop Chromebooks for all students in the district. This purchase will also be paid with federal ESSER funds.

Clapper notes that this will bring the Mount Gilead School district up to date in technology, which the district has lagged behind for several years. She thanked Curriculum Coordinator Emily Ross for her work and dedication in obtaining the grants.

• District Treasurer Tina Gabler gave a preliminary report on the five-year financial forecast.

Gabler said overall revenue increased by $600,000 and expenses were also up $900.000. She will give the board a more detailed forecast in June.

She reported that the district has increased its true cash days on hand to 218 days this year. Because the district made deep cuts in the past and has worked to get many grants and other cost savings, she recommended that the board seek advice from an investment firm.

Superintendent Larry Zimmerman said that it is recommended by the state that a district has 30 to 60 days cash on hand for payroll and bills.

• Board President Mike Sayers asked if the track project was built into the five-year projection. Gabler said it is not and that several projects need to be considered.

Gabler and the board discussed that they are recouping some of things in the deep cuts that were made in the past few years and some programs are being restored.

Next is planning for projects and investing since the district is in a good place financially. The board planning will take place as new Superintendent Zack Howard takes leadership this summer.

• Gabler introduced Scott Gruber of Meeder Public Funds who gave a presentation on ways the school district can raise more with investments other than bank CDs. Gruber works with many school districts and locally works with Mount Gilead Village and Highland School District.

Personnel approved

The board approved the superintendent’s recommendation for 2021-2022 including: Nathan Davis, High School Math Teacher; Sydney Gregory, Third Grade Teacher at Park Avenue; Carrie Jeffries, Fifth Grade Intervention Specialist; Jordan Nelson, District/school Community Liaison (social worker,) Mike Reid, High School Social Studies teacher; Kaytlin Roston, First Grade Teacher at Park Avenue; Erin Whipple, Long term substitute beginning

Jordon Nelson’s position as social worker is a new position that is paid for with a grant.

Board Member Virgil Staley said, “I was very impressed by the outstanding candidates this year and the excellent quality of their resumes.”

Three-year contracts were approved for administration: Lorena Boller, Transportation Supervisor; Molly Clapper Student Services; Clay Grube, Middle School Principal and Chris Kamenski, Park Avenue Principal.

The board approved certified and classified contracts for 2021-2022. They approved a raise of 2 percent increase for certified, classified and administrative schedules of base salaries and adjustments to salaries including a step for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school year.

Busing decision coming

The board heard progress on busing questions for next year from Zack Howard. He has been speaking with principals and other administrators. The question is whether a one tier/run schedule or two/run schedule will be best.

There is $70,000 cost saving with the one tier, one run system. This is also better for many families with several children. The two tier advantage is that there are fewer discipline problems and less time on the bus for children. Details are to be worked out before a decision is made.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, June 15 at 7 p.m. in the board room.

By Alberta Stojkovic

For The Sentinel