The Jonathan Alder district recently purchased a visitor management system. Above, High School Assistant Principal Mark Fenik demonstrates the new system using board member Christine Blacka’s identification. The system reads the driver’s license for visitors and prints a name tag including the visitor’s stated destination. (Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)
The Jonathan Alder School Board is considering resurrecting the district’s finance committee.
At Monday’s meeting, the board appointed members to district committees. Board member Steve Votaw asked about the district’s finance committee, which was not mentioned in the appointments. Superintendent Gary Chapman explained the committee has not met for a year.
“If we need to pull that back out and utilize that, we can,” Chapman said.
He added, “It has been a good group. They have served us well.”
Officials said it might be a good idea to get the public back involved with school financing.
He said the district’s income tax expires in 2021. Treasurer Aaron Johnson said the 0.5% tax on earned income generates about $1.7 million for the district.
The superintendent said the previous board decided to ask voters to renew the tax in spring of 2021 so the issue would not go on the ballot at the same time as the presidential election.
Votaw echoed that, “It is probably not a bad idea to get them back engaged.”
Board member Shannon Foust said that while the committee was created “in a time of crisis” that does not mean the committee cannot meet during good times to help set direction.
Johnson said the district revenue is “up a little more than we expected.”
He told the board that district property tax valuation has increased 8%. He said typically the district sees a 1-2% annual increase.
“That is welcome news as it is some additional property tax revenue,” Johnson said.
After the meeting Johnson said the increase means about $600,000 in additional revenue for the district in calendar year 2020.
He said he is helpful that a plan that would allow more students to choose private education and have the public school pay for it will be changed. Under the program, if the public school in an area fails to achieve certain benchmarks, based on state testing, students can apply for a voucher to go to a private or charter school. Money for that student would be taken from the local district’s state funding. In the past, districts needed to be failing in multiple areas for students to apply for an educational choice grant.
Johnson said he believes state officials will change the policy, returning it to something similar to prior rules. He said left unchanged, the new standards, “would probably have a negative impact on the district.”
In other business:
The district has contacted the consulting firm SHP to assess the former Plain City Elementary School Building, 340 W. Main St. Chapman said the firm has worked with the district
The district shuttered the building more than a decade ago when the elementary school on South Chillicothe Street was opened. He said the price and scope of the assessment has yet to be determined, though he hopes the assessment will be complete before the February board meeting.
The district has purchased a visitor management system. The system, which will be tested first at the plain City Elementary School, will log each visitor to the building. Anyone who could be unaccompanied in the building will need to register in the office. The visitor, whether they are a parent, contractor, volunteer or other, would need to provide a valid driver’s license. The license will be scanned and checked against an online sex offender registry. Additionally, the license will bring up any alerts for protection or custody orders involving students or staff in the building.
Those without out a license may give their name and date of birth.
“It is for safety and will be used for anybody coming into the building who isn’t going to be supervised,” said Misty Swanger, assistant superintendent.
She said anyone dropping a child off or signing a child out of school will not need to go through the background check.
Swanger said if a parent is on the sex offender registry, they still would have certain rights, but a district official would accompany the parent anytime they were in the building.
If the office worker scanning the license feels threatened or concerned, they can click a button to notify several building and district administrators.
Swanger said there are settings and features that will not be utilized yet, until officials better understand the system, how it works and its capabilities.
“There are still some things in the background we need to figure out,” Swanger said.
While Plain City Elementary School will pilot the program, district official hope to train staff in early March and have the system in place in all building later that month.
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