LEES CREEK — Three East Clinton staffers lost their jobs in a reduction in force (RIF) or layoff, including the technology coordinator and the bus supervisor.
In an RIF, the specific position is abolished.
The school district employee positions of both Technology Coordinator Jason Basford and Technology Technician Josh Mullen were abolished in the RIF action. The plan is to contract with the Miami Valley Educational Computer Association (MVECA), which is a not-for-profit computer support and services organization based in Yellow Springs in Greene County.
And the plan is for EC Plant Operations Manager Jim McDowell to take over the supervisory role of the Transportation Department, as Transportation Supervisor Denice Fraysier loses her employment. McDowell already supervises the bus mechanic, as well as custodians and maintenance personnel, said Supt. Eric Magee.
Magee recommended the RIFs to the school board and the school board approved them by 3-2 votes. In each instance, board members who voted in favor were Linda Compton, Mark Garen and Greg Bronner, while Tim Starkey and Dr. Robert Carey were opposed.
Magee said afterward that the decision to RIF the three staff positions is probably the hardest decision he has made as a superintendent.
“Even in my own mind, my vote was 3-2 as well,” said Magee. He complimented the work performances of all three people whose positions were abolished.
But he said, “In looking at the overall picture and considering all the different facets of a decision of this magnitude,” he believes it to be a move that will allow the district to operate more efficiently and effectively going forward.
Some contract terms with MVECA are still being negotiated, Magee said. There is some potential the cost of utilizing MVECA for computer support may cost a little bit more especially the transitional first year, but he believes longer-term there is a potential for cost savings.
Several people at Tuesday night’s board of education meeting spoke in support of the employees facing the RIFs.
Kevin Brown asked, “Why do away with an in-house program to bring in an outsider to come in and run our program?”
Fourth-grade teacher Rita Murphy said she was speaking on behalf of the New Vienna Elementary School staff. She said Basford and Mullen come in early and leave late.
“I cannot imagine teaching without IT people who are right there,” said Murphy.
East Clinton Special Education Director Steven Sodini said he is concerned with the timeliness “of an out-sourced company.”
Another speaker said the two IT staffers are community members who interact with students. She said currently East Clinton is “getting free overtime” with them.
For his part, Basford told the News Journal, “Obviously, the abolishment of the Technology Department was an issue that was not without controversy as shown in the board’s split vote. I appreciate all those that came to speak on behalf of my technology technician and me. It’s a sad day to leave a place I’ve worked so hard for, and given so much to. I still had so much I wanted to accomplish and that I have laid the foundation for in the district. I wish the best for the district and hope this move produces the positive results that Superintendent Magee envisions.”
There was more personnel news at the board meeting. High School Principal Kerri Matheny and Sabina Elementary Principal Jennie Pierson both submitted resignations. Both mentioned family time as a factor, according to Magee.
Matheny told the News Journal she is going to miss the students.
An East Clinton Athletic Boosters officer reported the organization, in the two years from April 2017 to now, has donated a total of $58,330 to district athletics.
“The one major thing I want to say is we do have a very small community, [and] we are on the lower end of the county of everything, but I want to say that East Clinton has a very whole heart,” the Athletic Boosters secretary said.
In a report to the board, East Clinton Operations Manager Jim McDowell said Highland County Water has offered to pay 40 percent of a project that would extend a water line from the Snow Hill golf course to the Lees Creek campus where the middle and high schools are at. Currently, those two schools utilize two wells, one of which will go out of operation when the new middle school is built.
If the water project were to go forward, it would also provide an opportunity for adjoining farmers to get off their well water, McDowell observed. Because the Lees Creek campus is surrounded by farmland, there also is a concern that agricultural chemicals could infiltrate into the school’s wells, he added.
With the 60-40 spending proposal, McDowell said the school district would be responsible for about $320,000. He suggested the board consider it.
Magee announced the hope is for ground to be broken in spring 2020 for the pending middle school construction and facilities renovation project.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.