Treasurer: District funds smaller than they appear

WELLSVILLE – Despite the latest numbers, Wellsville Local Schools treasurer Eva Elliott says the district’s finances still need to be approached with moderation.

At this week’s school board meeting, Elliott presented a general fund report that included revenues of $1,033,471.74 and expenditures of $639,317.79 from February against a carryover balance of $1,121,870.72 from January, for an ending balance of $1,516,024.67.

Elliott attributed the bulk of the increase in revenues to the transfer of $279,087 from the district’s permanent improvement fund to the general fund that was approved by the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court in January to assist with recent budgetary shortfalls. The rest of the increase – $62,990.18 – is new preschool funding, which must be used only for preschool spending.

The board approved recommended appropriations of $7,526 for the District Agency fund, a result of Wellsville hosting athletic tournaments this school year. Also accepted were $10,000 to student activity funds from fundraising efforts and federal IDEA-B funding of $5,012.51 (for students with disabilities), Title I funding of $18,790.68 (for districts with a high percentage of students from low-income households) and Title II-A funding of $178.81 (for teacher training and development).

Tom Brophey served as president pro-tempore in the absence of board President Ed Bauer. In his legislative report, Brophey said he had recently spoken with state Representative John Patterson (D-Ashtabula) at the state legislative conference he attended March 13. Patterson is assembling a non-partisan committee, including school board members, to find a resolution to the DeRolph v. State of Ohio decision, which declared the state’s method of funding public schools unconstitutional in 1997.

Brophey’s colleagues replied with rueful laughter. “Exactly,” he said, noting that no agreement has been reached in numerous previous attempts over the last 17 years. Nevertheless, he said their input was being welcomed by Patterson for the committee.

While at the conference, Brophey also spoke with state Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman), who has offered to visit future school board meetings, give a presentation on educational issues being debated in Columbus and answer questions. “If we’re interested in him coming to Wellsville, he’d be more than happy to,” Brophey said.

Superintendent Richard Bereschik announced that Brophey has been awarded the Ohio School Boards Association’s 2014 Award of Achievement. According to a release from the OSBA, the award presented to only 58 out of more than 3,300 school board members across the state. This is the fourth time that Brophey has received the award during his 21 years on the board of education.

Brophey was congratulated by Bereschik for the recognition. “Congratulations Tom, and thank you for all your efforts,” he said.

Bereschik addressed the board on the recent revision in calamity day policy negotiated at the state house, which is not the blessing for districts that it would initially appear. Wellsville Schools took nine days off over the winter months, four over the state allotment of five free calamity days that do not need to be made up. The new state agreement gives districts four so-called “contingency” days on top of the calamity days, but only if enough days have been missed.

“You have to make up at least four contingency days before they kick in the next calamity day. So, in other words, We missed exactly nine, so we owe exactly four. That’s the way it is,” Bereschik said.

In other business:

* Board approved a motion accepting millage rates set by the county budget commission, authorizing total inside mills of 4.6 and outside mills of 34.05 for tax purposes.

* A previously-debated charge of $.05 per copy for school documents deemed to be public records was approved. The measure was voted down at a earlier meeting under the misunderstanding that the district would be charging $.05 to make any copies on a district copy machine.

* The retirement of teacher Diane Baker was accepted with regrets and best wishes following 30 years of service with Wellsville Schools.