Mantua – At their organizational meeting in January, the school board elected Bonnie Lovejoy as board president and newly elected board member Kristen Cavanaugh as vice president. The meeting was held at Crestwood Primary School. And while the last few monthly board meeting have been held at Crestwood Primary School due to a variety of factors, including better ADA accessibility, larger capacity, more adjustable seating options, updated technology to better facilitate presentations, the board voted to revert to holding monthly board meetings at the High School. Veteran Board member Todd Monroe voiced his opposition to that decision, stating, “It’s reprehensible to force people to go into an ADA non-compliant building when we don’t have to.”

“It’s reprehensible to force people to go into an ADA
non-compliant building when we don’t have to.”

Throughout 2018, board meetings will continue to be held on the second Tuesday of each month. In addition, the board discussed holding two board meetings each month, in order to limit the length of the meetings. After several minutes of discussion, no decision was reached about holding an additional board meeting on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

You may recall that at the December board meeting, which the newly elected board members were asked to attend, District Treasurer Jill Rowe shared that in order for the district to avoid deficit spending in their five-year forecast, which is required to be filled annually with the state, it would be necessary for the board to make some major cuts (roughly $1.5 Million) to the district’s finances. The board agreed to investigate two options: building consolidation coupled with staff reductions or major staff reductions.

Consolidation would combined the district’s oldest facilities — Crestwood Middle School and Crestwood High School, moving seventh and eighth graders to the current High School and reverting sixth graders back to the Intermediate School. This option would also include staff reductions and cuts to supplemental programs. In the second option, an estimated 12 teachers would lose their jobs, as would one administrator, nine non-classified staff, and a multitude of supplemental programs.

In the regular January meeting, the board was informed by Ms. Rowe that if the school district does not make any cuts, the state would likely move the district to Fiscal Caution, since the district’s deficit spending is projected to be greater that 2% but less than 8% by Fiscal Year 2019, which begins in July of 2018. Fiscal Caution would require that district to submit reporting to the State on plans to remedy the situation, monthly reports, and potential oversight from state officials. If the financial situation isn’t improved, future steps would include Fiscal Watch and Fiscal Emergency, where a State-Appointed Commission would assume control of the school district.

Since 2008, voters have failed to pass six school levy initiatives…

Ms. Rowe noted that since 2008, voters have failed to pass six school levy initiatives. During that time period, tax cuts have further reduced the funds that the district has received. In addition, the State has placed the Crestwood School District on a Guarantee for funding. The term is somewhat misleading; it means that the state has determined that Crestwood receives more state funds than it is entitled to. The formula used to determine funding depends on enrollment numbers and other criteria; Guaranteed districts have typically seen a reduction of roughly 5% in state funds every two years. Crestwood is in the top four districts statewide with the highest Guarantee dollars. The passage of an emergency levy in recent years, coupled with a high number of teacher retirements helped improve the district’s financial situation. Ms. Rowe noted, “We’ve done a lot with what we’ve had.” But now, action is required.

At January’s meeting, the board approved a non-consolidation plan by a three to two vote. They directed the treasurer and superintendent to put forth recommendations to cut $1.4 million from the district budget. According to Superintendent David Toth, some of the actions under consideration are the reduction of up to 16 positions, including classified, certified, and administrative positions. In addition, the plan could include reductions in supplemental positions, curriculum, building, and programming budgets as well as staff salary freezes. “The administrative team is working with Crestwood Education Association members to look at other budget-cutting options that will have the least negative impact to students,” Mr. Toth noted. They hope to present final recommendations to the Board by the March meeting, which will take place on March 13th.

The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 13th at 7 pm in the CHS library. The community is encouraged to attend.