Rossford's casino take falls short
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 24 January 2013 09:50
ROSSFORD - The Rossford school district officials are not impressed with their share of state revenue generated by casinos, including the nearby Hollywood Casino.
|File photo. A view of a section of slot machines at the Hollywood Casino in Rossford. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Treasurer Jamie Rossler reported that the district received $38,931 in the first of two payments this year. If the second payment is about the same as this one, he said, the total would be equivalent to revenue raised by 0.1 mill.
That's about a third of what the state estimated it would generate when it approved the construction of four casinos in the state. Three are now open, with the fourth in Cincinnati, still under construction.
Rossler likened it to the promise of state school funds brought in by the lottery. That didn't provide adequate funding, and nor will the casinos, he said. Still, some in the public may view this as providing a jackpot for the schools and wonder why schools need to put levies on the ballot.
Board President Dawn Burks said "there's a misperception" that because Rossford is right next door to the Hollywood casino that it would somehow get more money. "I thought we'd get more," she said. That's not the case.
Rossler said that there are online academies that received more money than Rossford.
Board member Jackie Brown said she was concerned that the state funding would fall because the projections for casino money have fallen short. Brown noted that the district is hemorrhaging money.
The district is considering a new grade configuration that could save the district money, especially if it means a school could be closed. The plan would have: all students in kindergarten, first and second grade attending one school; all third, fourth and fifth graders together; and sixth graders attending the junior high.
The plan, Burks said, would also improve education in the district by giving teachers more chance to work together "and work as a team."
Board members are aligned behind the configuration, but whether it is done for next school year or for fall, 2014, remains a question.
Board member Doug Miller said in his talks with parents, they urged the district to act quickly, but he remains concerned that there is not enough time to get the job done.
Brown noted that often when districts realign grades they announce it in June and implement it in late August. But those typically do not involve closing a school, she noted.
And whether a school would close has still not been decided.
Rossler said that keeping all the schools opened would greatly reduce the savings realized by the plan.
The board will hold a work session to get public comment on the configuration plan on Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at Glenwood school, before an already scheduled facilities committee meeting at 7.
Board member Beverly Koch said she and Brown talked with top building administrators about the plan. Two supported it, she said, two opposed, and two had different ideas.
The board also discussed increasing security, especially at the high school-junior high complex in downtown. Ken Sutter said that the safety committee has about $14,000 in federal grant money that could be used to install buzzers on the front doors of the school, update security cameras and enclose the breezeway that runs between the fieldhouse and the music building.
Students now have to go outside to traverse between the two buildings.
Having the entrances locked would be "a major change," Superintendent William McFarland said. "Right now we have a pretty wide open campus." That includes allowing seniors to leave campus for lunch.
The money on hand is through federal Safe Healthy Student Grants that are funneled through the Wood County Educational Service Center. More grants will be available this year, but McFarland said he expects given recent news that demand for those grants will be higher.
Sutter said that the district also will discuss reinstating a school resources police officer on campus. He said discussions are underway with police chief and other city officials.
Also at the meeting, the board approved a $17,000-contract with TTL Associates Inc. to assess hazardous materials in the schools.
Also, the board voted to issue a request for qualifications for an architect and design firm to work on the third phase of the district's building effort. District officials will decide later in spring whether to renovate existing schools or build new.