After more discussion on needs for updated classrooms and a stadium facility, the Tipp City schools board of education voted Monday, Oct. 26, to take the first step for placing two bond issues on the March ballot.
The board voted 4-1 to ask the Miami County auditor to certify the millage for a bond issue to build a proposed prekindergarten through third grade building and voted 3-2 to request millage for an athletic stadium.
The board will be asked to vote in the future on placing the bond issues on the March ballot. The deadline for filing issues for the March ballot – an early vote because 2016 is a presidential election year – is in December.
A motion also was made Monday to combine the two issues into one ballot question. That motion, made by board member Frank Maus, failed for the lack of a second.
Board member Scott Dixon voted “no” on the motion involving the prekindergarten through grade three building. Maus, Carla Frame, Tom Merritt and Kate Johnsen voted “yes.”
Maus, Merritt and Dixon voted for the request involving the stadium, while Johnsen and Frame voted against it.
During a more than two-hour meeting, the board again discussed the need for both updated classroom buildings and an improved stadium. The board debated for some time whether a private fund raising effort should be made for a stadium and whether to first address classrooms and then a stadium project once classroom funding was secured.
Maus said private funding for a stadium “would be great but I don’t see a whole lot happening there … Unfortunately, we don’t have any activity there at all.”
Frame disagreed saying, “I don’t think you can write off private funding yet.”
Dixon, however, said private funding efforts haven’t worked for 20 years. He pointed to the bid to raise money for a track that eventually was paid for by the district.
Merritt said stadium funding has come up repeatedly during his eight years on the board but always is put aside when it comes time to vote on what will be placed on the ballot.
“If they don’t want it, they won’t vote for it,” he said of a stadium funding request.
Johnsen said the board needs to prioritize the district’s funding, with academics taking first priority. After working on levies for a number of years, she said it would be difficult to run two campaigns.
Frame in addition pointed to two surveys done by the district in which teachers and buildings received priority before athletic facilities. She also said that modern facilities are needed to attract students/parents as other options for schooling grow.
Superintendent Gretta Kumpf again told the board she sees the need for an updated stadium but considers a classroom project for staff and students as the top priority. She said if the decision would be made to go for funding two capital projects at the same election, it would be “extremely difficult” to run two campaigns.
During the citizen comment time at the start of the meeting, district resident Jackie Wahl said she is not against the stadium, but is concerned about getting a bond issue for construction of a new building passed first.
Wahl said she wanted to make sure the new board members elected next week and taking office in January know that whatever the current board decided Monday night and in coming weeks on construction projects “isn’t necessarily set in concrete.” She urged the new board members – three will be elected – to talk to the board attorney and find out what would need to be done to rescind a board action.
“There are questioned to be asked, and they need to be asked,” Wahl said. “It is possible to undue a mistake that they may make tonight and next month, too. I just want to put that out there.”
Johnsen, Merritt and Dixon are not seeking re-election to the board.
District negotiations slowed to a crawl
Representatives of the new Tipp City Education Association (TCEA) said Monday, Oct. 26, negotiations with the district on a contract have “slowed to a crawl.”
Numerous association members attended the Board of Education’s October meeting, but did not discuss their concerns about the negotiations during the meeting. A written press release was distributed by TCEA at the meeting.
The TCEA was formed in the spring, the first teachers union for the district in some 40 years.
The formation followed the loss in 2014 of several district teachers and several months of meetings between teachers and board/administrators on improving compensation.
District voters in May approved a 4.95-mill levy, whose proceeds district officials said would be used, in part, to enhance employee compensation.
Negotiations on a contract began July 1 and have continued but the TCEA said agreement has not been reached on several “important” contract issues.
The teachers attended the Monday meeting, the release said, to among other goals remind the board of its pledge to use proceeds from the May levy for staff compensation, and to request the board settle the contact “by following their own board policies and the required legal statues of the state of Ohio.”
Superintendent Gretta Kumpf told board members in an update Oct. 16 that negotiations continued, adding, “The process has slowed down, but both parties remain committed to the process.”