HOWARD — East Knox Local Schools are formally moving their district into the future, as the board of education approved the purchase of a property directly next to the board office on Coshocton Road during their November meeting Thursday evening.
After an 11-minute executive session, the board approved the purchase of the property at 23207 Coshocton Road in Howard. The property will be purchased for $75,000.
“We’re looking at it for part of our planning for the future facilities,” Superintendent Steve Larcomb said.
The district is considering a three-option approach to the new facilities, Larcomb said.
“As you know from previous conversations, the school facilities commission basically has three possibilities, to come up here and make this [the elementary school] a K-12 building, doing some work and adding in a 7-9 wing [to the elementary building] and building a new 9-12 building down the hill, or building a new junior/senior high school. And that’s what we’ve started with a new community engagement piece and identify some key stakeholders within the community, so they can start talking about their vision for the community and for our students.”
The district will be holding community engagement meetings with the architect, Fanning Howey Associates out of Dublin, to gage public opinion about the facilities and building options. The first meeting will be held Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the East Knox Junior/Senior High School auditorium. Another will be held Dec. 11, also at 6:30 p.m. in the East Knox Junior/Senior High School Library.
Larcomb explained that the district will continue to host these engagement meetings in the new year to potentially put out a bond issue for a vote in 2019 or 2020.
“One way or the other, whether we decide to tear down and rebuild or whatever we do, that piece of property is necessary regardless of which direction we go in the future,” Larcomb said.
Larcomb briefly touched on the Ohio Department of Education district report card during his report. He explained that the district leadership team has met to discuss the continuous improvement plan and the Ohio improvement process, and highlighted the fact that in most areas East Knox is at or above the level of peer districts, or districts with similar demographics and socio-economic makeup.
Junior/Senior High School principal Alan Keesee said that an important focus for the district is consistency in the classroom and that they are improving.
“As a staff we are a young district,” Larcomb said. “And we’ve had very little turnover this year, so as the staff is starting to gain some experience, I think as Alan pointed out, I think we’re seeing some of the results and some of the benefits of, once again, passing the levy and being able to give people raises and keeping people in place.”
Treasurer Jessi Busenburg explained in her report that the revenues are very similar to where they were last year at this time, four months in the new fiscal year.
“Revenues are up about $7,000 compared to last year, with half a year’s worth of tax receipts in, our tax receipts were up $23,000 and our state funding is down $9,000,” she said. “So very close to last year, as far as revenues go.”
Expenses were up exponentially over last year, she said, due to some big bills in the month of October. They are up $90,000 over the previous fiscal year, and overall expenses are up $118,000 compared to last year, she said.
The permanent improvement fund has a balance of $476,000, which is about $16,000 lower than last year.
Busenburg also broached the topic of electronic storage filing with the board, which will cover all of the backlogs of permanent staff, financial and student records the district cannot get rid of. The records are currently kept in filing cabinets.
“It will be an investment over the next few couple years to get everything electronic, but once we spend the money, there will just be a little bit to keep it going each year,” Busenburg said. “If you’re not aware, we have a lot of records that are permanent records, payroll files, personnel files, some financial records. They are permanent records, we can never get rid of them.”
The estimated cost for electronic storage with the backlog could be $70,000, Busenburg said, but the district can spread that cost over a few years, and after the district is caught up with electronic filing, the annual fee would be about $1,500.
The board approved an agreement with MicroImage, Inc. for online document scanning and archiving at a cost of $0.089 per image, and an annual fee of $1,450 for cloud based software. The Treasurer was also approved to appropriate $35,000 for the 2018-19 school year to catch up on old student records.
The board additionally approved:
•A lease with Hewlett Packard, Inc. for the lease of up to 10 copier print devices for a total cost of $55,848 over 48 months;
•The Treasurer or Superintendent to advertise and accept bids for the purchase of two buses, with a capacity of 71, 72 or 77 passengers.