The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 16, 2014

Budget deficit looms for Conneaut schools

CONNEAUT — A seven-digit deficit is ahead for the Conneaut Area City Schools unless revenue is raised or cuts are made, officials said at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting.

While the district will be “financially solvent” in the upcoming school year, a $1.2 million shortfall is predicted in 2016 without some sort of action.

Personnel is generally where the district has made cuts in the past. The $1.2 million is equivalent to a dozen certified staff positions, said Superintendent Kent Houston.

Revenue enhancement usually comes in the form of a levy. A renewal of the 1.5-mill permanent improvement levy for school buses, textbooks, technology and building upkeep will come before voters in the fall. An operating levy hasn’t been on the ballot for a few years.

Treasurer Lindsey Cotton outlined the five-year forecast required of all Ohio school districts. Employees were apparently pretty healthy in 2013-2014 because the district spent less on substitutes, Cotton said. However, the hard winter drove up heating costs, she said.

In other business, the board heard from Tammy Ledford, a member of the CARE for Kids Committee that is spearheading a campaign to raise money for a sports complex near the Conneaut High School football stadium. Ledford discussed donation agreements for contributors that were later approved by the board. The agreements spell out terms to secure naming rights for various portions of the complex.

The complex is being built almost entirely on contributions. A track/field complex is nearing completion and new tennis courts are in the mix.

“We’ve got quite a ways to go, but we’ve come a long ways,” Ledford said.

Work has begun on locker rooms that will serve the soccer field/track facility, Houston said. While not designed for football use, the locker rooms will be used by football players this season.

In other football news, security cameras have been installed in the stadium press box and also the concession stand built last fall, Houston said.

Elsewhere,

the board:

• Approved the resignation of Karen Kehoe, the district’s director of special services, effective June 11. No reason for the departure was discussed. “She will be dearly missed,” said board member Diana DiPofi.

• Accepted the resignation of Rich Shields as head baseball coach and head boys soccer coach; and Tom Ritari as assistant volleyball coach

• Gave one-year supplemental contracts to Kelly Kelly (IAT chairperson at Lakeshore Primary School), Christine Poff (assistant volleyball coach), Stephen Dorroh (assistant football coach) and Tim Tallbacka (assistant football coach)

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