East Clinton schools losing $226,000 in state funds


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



LEES CREEK — East Clinton schools will lose $226,691 due to state funding cuts made to education this month to deal with diminished state revenues in the wake of the virus-impacted economy.

East Clinton Superintendent Eric Magee reported the amount at this week’s board of education meeting where he described the state’s action as “a pretty massive cut to education K through 12.” Moreover, the EC administrator noted the state dollars are disappearing during this fiscal year (FY 2020) which ends next month.

Because a school district’s expenses typically are about 80 percent related to personnel costs and because most EC employees have by now worked the full school year, it’s not really possible for the district to make its own corresponding cuts, so basically the district will absorb the loss, Magee added.

There were some projects the district was going to look at doing this summer, but now they will not be undertaken, he said.

In a Thursday email to the News Journal, East Clinton Treasurer John Stanley said the district currently is unsure what state funding reductions may be for FY 2021.

“However, based on some things said by state leaders it could be three times the amount we were cut in FY 2020,” the EC treasurer wrote.

The annual standardized state tests that produce evaluations of a school district’s academic performance were cancelled this school year due to the pandemic’s closure of school buildings. If that state testing is resumed in the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, the impact of this spring’s eight weeks of distance learning will be a complicating factor, said Magee.

It could take a number of weeks for students to catch up, he said, with teachers accordingly teaching to fill the gaps and thus not covering what they ordinarily would.

“I would say from my perspective, the message I would be giving to teachers is [state] test scores are secondary. Let’s take care of the students; let’s meet those needs; let’s catch them up. Test scores are going to be what they are,” said Magee.

He announced East Clinton’s free summer lunch program will be held again this summer. There is a change in pick-up sites: The daily lunches will be distributed at the Sabina and New Vienna Churches of Christ, after the meals are prepared at a school building cafeteria.

This summer’s lunch program will begin on Monday, June 1 for any child 18 or younger.

The school board approved the operation of the district’s preschool program on a Mondays-through-Thursdays schedule for the 2020-2021 school year.

There were three personnel decisions by the school board that were not unanimous. A supplemental contract for Anthony “Tony” Berlin as varsity boys basketball coach was voted down, 4-1. Board member Tim Starkey cast the one “yes” vote.

A two-year administrative contract as assistant principal and athletic director was approved for James “Jim” Marsh by a 3-2 vote. Voting “yes” were board members Linda Compton, Dr. Robert “Doc” Carey and Tim Starkey. Voting no were board members Janielle Runyon and Amy Zimmerman.

A supplemental contract was approved for Jeffery “Jeff” Craycraft as varsity girls basketball coach by a vote of 4-1. Board member Janielle Runyon cast the one “no” vote.

There were many other personnel contracts approved unanimously at the meeting.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

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By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com