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Fort Frye Local examines financial, facility issues

March 4, 2011
From staff reports

BEVERLY - Financial issues have been a hot topic in recent months for Fort Frye Local Schools.

At a recent school board meeting both community and board of education members said some grant monies had not been properly used, the result of poor communication.

A $65,000 Title I School Improvement Grant given to Beverly-Center Elementary School expired at the end of September. Only $10,000 of the money had been spent, on reading materials incompatible with what was in place at the school; $3,000 is still eligible to be spent.

During the board meeting interim Superintendent Dora Jean Bumgarner said the issue surrounding the funds was not clear.

"These conversations revealed conflicting information about awareness of the school improvement funds," she said. "With several new employees and others in new district assignments, there seemed to have been a lack of information and communication on this topic."

Bumgarner said she was working with officials at the Ohio Department of Education to have the grant reinstated, but was unsure whether that could be done. About $3,000 in grant funds were still available at the end of January and would be used for staff development.

However, at the same meeting the board received positive news on the district's food service division, which previously had been suffering from a massive debt. In 2009 the food service division was about $213,000 in debt, requiring an advance from the general fund to keep it going.

But in January, officials reported the school system would now be be receiving $187,000 in an Education Jobs grant aimed at calling back laid off workers or preventing layoffs, which will be used for cafeteria workers. The division was expected to be debt-free by the end of this school year.

Officials requested a staffing analysis from the Ohio Department of Education in anticipation of layoffs in the school system. With possible state funding cuts looming, a significant reduction in force could be possible for the 2011-12 school year.

The school board also began looking at a 15-year building replacement for Fort Frye's schools. Some projects that may need to be done soon include finishing a 1990s ventilation project at Fort Frye High School and replacing blacktop at Lowell Elementary. The total cost to replace all the blacktop and turn the former tennis courts, now unused, into a parking lot would be about $25,000.



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