Dear Parents, Students, Staff and East Knox Community,
I wanted to take some time to address last Tuesday’s levy failure and what it means for the foreseeable future while providing factual information as much as possible. First thing, though, is to say thank you to the Our Kids, Our Future levy campaign committee headed up by Mrs. Laurie Gallwitz. The committee comprised of and supported by many facets of this community including, but certainly not limited to parents, grandparents, students, staff members and friends made this the most memorable, positive campaign I’ve ever been fortunate enough to experience. It is absolutely ZERO negative reflection upon the work that was done and falling approximately 108 votes shy of success. The fact is we came to the closest percentage (52-48%) we’ve managed in eight attempts.
It’s human nature to worry about the future of this school district and how it relates to our own personal situations. The best advice I can give is to not stress about that which we cannot control.
What I know as of this date and what I anticipate through May is that nothing has changed for this school year! Our staff will keep our heads up and continue doing the great work that we do day in and day out for our students and this community!
Here's a couple answers to FAQs that the Administration has been asked and the answers as best we know.
1. When will "the state" be here?
We anticipate our Board of Education will receive a letter from the Auditor of State’s Office (AOS) sometime between the end of this month and this coming June 30
th. Upon receipt of that letter, the Board will have 60 days to provide AOS with a recovery plan that addresses how the Board will eliminate the 2014-2015 deficit. We will not be able to provide AOS with an acceptable plan since the levy failed. At that point in time, the AOS will direct the Ohio Department of Education to either place us in Fiscal Watch and give us another 60 days to submit a plan or form a Fiscal Planning and Oversight Commission.
2. What can/will the commission do?
We are told the commission will look at the District’s finances and determine where, in their opinion, further reductions must be made. Then, and only then, will they authorize the District to borrow money to pay expenses once we’ve spent monies we normally receive through tax collections. We will be forced to begin repaying the money loaned to the District the year after it is borrowed. We will then be forced to borrow more money on top of the borrowed money as the deficit continues to grow. The cycle will continue to get worse (think of a Pay Day loan) until our voters realize this will only continue to get worse and it will cost them more money the longer they wait to pass a levy. The commission will dictate to the Board how much money they must ask by way of a levy. We do not
know at this time if they’ll also dictate what type of levy it must be (i.e. property tax, income tax, combination, etc).
3. Will we be forced to merge with Danville or another school district?
East Knox will not/cannot be absorbed/combined/split up with another district(s) without voter approval from the affected districts (i.e. EK voters would have to approve consolidation with Danville AND Danville voters would have to approve consolidation with EK. ODE states it’s not happened anywhere in a fiscal emergency situation). A couple follow up points to the "We’ll just merge with Danville" scenario. Taxpayers pay the higher tax rate of the two districts when consolidation occurs. Do you think EK taxpayers wants to pay Danville’s income tax rate plus their property tax rates? Do you think Danville wants to take on EK’s debts and "no" voters? Just a couple points to ponder.
4. Will the Board go back on the ballot in May?
We have three new Board members taking office as of January. I am thankful for the service of the members leaving the Board (and the two remaining). Their years of service to this community are testament to their care and concern for our students and this school community in its entirety. I am very confident that the new Board members (and the two remaining) will continue the tradition of sound decisions with the information they have available. It will be the Board’s decision when to next go on the ballot until such time that a commission is formed. The commission will then dictate when to go on the ballot, for how much and likely, what type of issue (i.e. property tax, etc).
The Board and Administration will do our best to keep the school community informed as we move down the path towards Fiscal Emergency. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.
East Knox Local Schools (EK) and our students continue to excel against all odds and despite many obstacles. The 2012-2013 Local Report Card stacks up well against any in Knox County. These results serve as a testament to the hard work of our students, parents and staff!
It should certainly be no secret that tempering these results is our school district’s economic distress. The Ohio Legislature cut school funding across our state by $1.8 billion in 2012-2013. It then restored about $717 million between 2014 and 2015. Our legislators proceeded to pat themselves on the back this summer about the purported increases in educational funding. Nowhere but in Ohio politics have I seen where you take a dollar from a person, give them back 40 cents and with a straight face try to convince that person you made them better off than they were before. By the way, projections for that big gift from our legislature to East Knox is that we will receive zero funding increase from the state. We did not even get our 40 cents back!
This is the fifth year in a row that our staff members have not received a base salary increase. There are those who would opine, “So what?” The “so what” is that EK teachers are leaving our students and this community in droves on their way to better job security and pay increases. EK experienced a 50% loss of teaching staff these past two years between retirements and resignations (19 teachers this year alone). Losses of mid-level and senior-level teachers place us at a critical near-term crossroads for our students’ future achievement levels.
Our reality is that the EK Board must come to our community and ask you to further financially support our students and secure their futures. The Board placed a combination levy on this fall’s ballot to meet our district’s needs. The levy consists of 2.90 mills of property tax ($101.50 per year for a $100,000 home) and one percent earned income tax. Earned income means no tax on social security, pensions or any other unearned income. The last time our community passed a new operating levy that is still collected was 1984. That’s 29 years!
EK students should have physical education, music and art at the Elementary and Middle School levels. They do not have it now, but will in 2014-2015 if this levy passes. Our teachers should have a competitive salary that will keep them at East Knox. Otherwise, our school district will continue to serve as a training ground for other districts. Our students should have physics classes. They should have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. High school $250.00 pay-to-participate fees per activity keep ourpoorest students from getting access to after-school programs. They deserve the rich educational environment both inside and outside the classroom walls that you and I experienced in our own respective youths.
The East Knox School Board places these fundamental issues before our community in the form of a levy ballot on November 5th, 2013. We look forward to your answer for the futures of our children and grandchildren.
Steve Larcomb, Superintendent
East Knox Local Schools
Office of the Superintendent
23 August 2013
Re: Next phases for Grades 7-12 iPad deployments
Dear Parents, Students and Community Members,
The Administration received several calls from parents with students in Grades 7-12 who were not able to attend their respective orientation meeting, but wish receive the orientation material and pay the $50.00 insurance premium.
For your convenience, staff members will be available to distribute iPads beginning next Mon., Aug. 26th through Sep. 13th from 2:30-3:00. Please come to the Jr/Sr High School Office and we will direct you from there. Contact the office if you cannot come to the school during this time frame and we will make alternate arrangements to meet with you.
For an iPad to be issued to a student in Grades 7-12, the following must occur:
A parent/guardian must be present to sign for and receive the student’s iPad.
A $50.00 technology payment must be made to cover the cost of the insurance policy. This is an every year fee. The annual insurance amount must be paid in order for your student to bring the device home. This $50.00 will cover accidental damage and theft (as long as a police report is filed).
If the amount is not paid, then the student will not be permitted to take the iPad home. However, your student will be able to check in and out his/her respective iPad during the school day if you and your student have signed the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).
As always, please feel free to contact the office if you have any questions or concerns.
Superintendent of Schools
Office of the Superintendent
Aug. 1, 2013
Dear Parents, Students and Community Members,
Welcome to another school year! This year will look a lot different than it has in the past several years with K-6 now housed at the former Middle School and Grades 7-12 now referred to as the Junior/Senior High School. You’ll see a lot of new faces among our teaching staff as we hired 15 positions due to retirements or resignations.
Among many changes are the additions of iPad devices available for each of our students in Grades 4-12with additional devices within K-3 grade levels. Please see the calendar on our website for upcoming distribution and Open House dates.
We received notice in July that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) granted our request for waiver of four instructional days for staff development. The calendar has been adjusted. It’s available on our ekschools.org website. The additional days out of school for students are Oct.15th (we already have professional development scheduled for Oct. 14th); Nov. 25th and 26th and Jan. 17th. This means that students will not have school any day of Thanksgiving week nor the Monday after.
In an attempt to address the District’s finances, the Board approved a November ballot issue which will involve a combination of income and property taxes. Specifically, the Board approved ballot placement of a 1% Earned Income Tax in combination with a 2.90 Mill Property tax. This remains a critical time for our school district and this community. It’s up to you to help guide the future of East Knox Local Schools.
As August 20th approaches, I want to thank you again for entrusting us with the education of this community’s most precious gifts-our children!
Superintendent of Schools
Our staff, Board and Administration are especially proud of our students' achievements in all aspects of their education. We are excited for our students that they are ranked Excellent on the Local Report Card for the first time in district history. We are humbled by the many professional and personal sacrifices our staff members make in their care of our students to ensure their safety, achievement and social-emotional development.
Dear Parents and Community Members,
The Board of Education placed a combination levy on the May 7th ballot. This levy will raise approximately $2.1 million per year if approved. It combines 2.9 mills of property tax with a 1% earned income tax. The Board heard a few concerns about last November’s levy request for a continuing period of time. This levy request is for a 10-year period instead of a continuous time frame. We certainly hope the economy continues to improve over that period of time in addition to our state legislature recognizing its constitutional duty to effectively fund public education. In the meantime, it is up to local taxpayers to ensure the futures of their schools and community.
Please visit us on Facebook or feel free to contact me at: email@example.com for more information about our levy request.
You have the chance to help shape East Knox Schools for generations to come. Please be sure to get out and vote!
The East Knox Board of Education will consider two very important issues when it meets this Wednesday, March 13that 7:00PM in the Middle School Commons.
The three Building Principals and I attended the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy’s Active Shooter for EducatorsTraining last Thursday. You may have heard of the A.L.I.C.E. training that has been in the news especially since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in December. Schools do a great job in training students and staff in lock down drills and seeking shelter. Sandy Hook teaches us that educators need to seriously examine how to respond when an active shooter actually enters a classroom or other area where students and staff are present.
These considerations bring us to the second major issue Wednesday evening. The Board will discuss possibly authorizing the Administration to arm staff members who receive proper training. IF the Board movesforward, the Board and Administration will work together to ensure that no staff member will ever be authorized to carry a gun without Peace Officer Academy certification, meet rigid requalification requirements as recommended AND receive written approval from the Superintendent. Any non-lethal methods would also require intensive training.
I assure you that as Superintendent andfather of two East Knox students, I am excited considering the implications for all students moving forward with technology and its educational possibilities. I am also very concerned for the safety of each one of our students-your children and mine. I’m not sure that putting guns into schools is the right answer unless it’s carried by a law enforcement officer. What I do know is that we must provide our students and staff some form of empowerment and knowledge to increase their chances of survival if ever faced with a significant threat.
Please join us Wednesday evening and bepart of these conversations. I assure you we do not take lightly the future of our children on any level especially these two areas.
Office of the Superintendent