SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT Residents to assist in district's search

The district is set to end the year barely in the black.
AUSTINTOWN -- A public meeting is set for Nov. 30 so that local residents can express their opinions as to what type of qualities they'd like to see in the new schools superintendent.
Kathy LaSota, deputy director of search services for the Ohio School Boards Association, said she will ask residents to describe challenges facing the district and the skills they believe a superintendent will need to meet those challenges.
She said residents also will be asked to talk about the personal qualities needed in a superintendent.
Information collected at the meeting will be used to screen applicants to replace Superintendent Stan Watson, who is expected to retire at the end of the year.
The time and location for the meeting have not been set.
LaSota met in a work session with the school board before its regular meeting Monday night at Lynn Kirk Elementary School. The board has contracted with the Ohio School Boards Association to conduct a search for Watson's replacement.
"We work from the board's perspective and the community's perspective and try and find a match," LaSota said. She added that she also will be having focus groups with school staff Nov. 30 to talk about what qualities they think are needed in a new superintendent.
LaSota said she plans to present pre-screened applicants to the board Jan. 10 and make a recommendation as to who it should hire.
The board also approved a new five-year forecast showing that the district will barely end this school year in the black. The forecast shows that without additional revenue the district will end the year with a carry-over of $4,654.
School officials had predicted that the district would have a deficit of $1 million and $1.5 million at the end of the school year, which is June 30, 2005.
Watson explained that the board cut back on supplies and materials and did not replace some employees who left the district in order to save money.
"We're barely going to squeak by," he said.
If it doesn't raise additional revenue, the district is expected to have a deficit of $2.6 million at the end of next school year. The board has placed a five-year, 3.9-mill levy on the Nov. 2 ballot.
If the levy is approved, the board will be able to collect about $1 million in property taxes this school year and $2.1 million next school year, according to the five-year forecast.
But even if the levy passes, the board is expected to have a $1.5 million deficit at the end of the 2006-07 school year.
Salary increases
In a letter accompanying the forecast, Treasurer Barbara Kliner explained that salaries are expected to increase 3 percent annually because of raises given for longevity and attaining an advanced degree. The state requires school boards to base salaries in part on amount of experience and level of education.
All school employees have agreed not to take additional raises this year.
The cost of benefits, including insurance and retirement, also are expected to increase 8 percent each year, while the cost of utilities is expected to increase 5 percent each year, Kliner wrote. The school board is working with a consultant to determine if insurance costs can be reduced.
The cost of supplies and materials also is expected to increase 10 percent each year.

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