Transportation Changes – Effective January 4, 2010
As a result of the past three levy failures, Olmsted Falls schools will be reducing school bus transportation to state minimums. Last week, letters were mailed to parents who live within the two mile zone of the school in which their child attends notifying them that bus service will be discontinued. As a parent, if you feel that you received this letter in error, please contact the Olmsted Falls bus garage at 427-6350. The OFCS transportation department will remeasure, if necessary, to ensure accuracy.
A second change that will go into effect as of January 4, 2010 is the elimination of Alternative Transportation requests. Under state minimum busing, all students receiving transportation services will be assigned to the bus stop nearest their residence. Please note that any student, currently using a private shuttle service to and/or from a day care / child care provider will still be able to do so.
Additionally, students in grades 1-3 who are already on-site at Falls-Lenox will be able to continue to take advantage of the walking escort provided by Kids First and the Olmsted Community Center. However, the reduced bus routing will no longer utilize Falls-Lenox as a transfer hub. Therefore, students in other grade levels will no longer have access to the Kids First / Olmsted Community Center walking escort at Falls-Lenox.
Please watch for additional information that may be sent directly from your child’s school regarding any changes in drop-off / pick-up procedures due to the anticipated increase in traffic at the building sites. You may be asked to verify private pick-up / escort arrangements for your child at the individual building level. Please direct any specific questions to the main office at your child’s school.
We hope that providing you with this advanced notification will allow you ample time to make alternate arrangements for transporting your child to/from school beginning Monday, January 4, 2010. It is our sincere hope that passage of the next operating levy, which has been placed on the February 2, 2010 ballot, will provide the additional funding needed to allow us to restore our District’s busing services.
A Transportation Information Meeting will be held on Saturday, December 12th at 10:00 a.m. in the High School Auditorium to answer any logistical questions regarding the changes in transportation services.
Levy Campaign Meeting
Over 150 persons attended the levy campaign meeting, held this past Sunday evening, at OFHS. I want to thank our community for this strong turnout.
The emphasis again on this campaign will be to ensure that all residents have the information needed to cast an informed vote. Additionally, since this is a February election and the weather is always an unknown during this time of year, the campaign committee is encouraging all parents to vote by absentee ballot. If you are interested in voting by absentee ballot, please email Kim Petrina (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the necessary paperwork will be delivered to your home.
Additionally, while the turnout was strong at Sunday’s meeting, the levy campaign is still in need of volunteers. I would strongly encourage all parents to become part of this campaign. Please contact Kim Petrina (email@example.com) for more information.
Middle School Students Learn the Benefits of Physical Exercise
Approximately 800 students participated in this Activity Day. Each student participated in a 40-minute time period, while wearing pedometers, in a variety of activities designed to improve their cardiovascular fitness and endurance levels. The goal of this program is to show students that exercise can be enjoyable and can occur in many places around our community.
Students had the opportunity to select one activity: Pedometer Basketball; The Amazing Race (walk/run scavenger hunt), Pedometer Soccer, and the Fitness Challenge. All pedometer steps were recorded, and prizes were given out to the students who recorded the most steps during the period.
Also as a part of this activity, an essay contest was conducted. In this contest, students were encouraged to “go green” and discuss the benefits of physical activity while at the same time explaining how alternate forms of transportation (walking, bike riding) help the environment.
2009 Boys and Girls Foundation Basketball Game
On Friday, November 20th, the OFHS boys and girls varsity basketball teams each participated in the 2009 Foundation Basketball game at North Ridgeville High School. This event was scheduled as a way to raise money for local charities.
I would personally like to thank our head coaches (Pat Donahue – boys basketball and Matt Fulton – girls basketball) for their efforts with this worthwhile event. This event raised:
• 534 non – perishable food items for the North Ridgeville Community Care facility;
• $874 for the North Ridgeville Community Care facility;
• OFHS student athletes spent time volunteering at the North Ridgeville Community Care facility helping with inventory and packaging of the donated items.
A 2010 Foundation game will be played at Olmsted Falls High School and the charitable donations for this event will benefit the people in need in the Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township areas.
SWC All-Conference Golf Selections
Congratulations to the following OFHS golfers who have received All-SWC honors for their efforts this past Fall Sports Season:
Steve Johnson (9th Grade)
Eric Chaney (11th Grade)
Neil McGrew (12th Grade)
Cory Daugherty (11th Grade)
Taylor Eyssen (11th Grade)
Kristin Holland (11th Grade)
Relay For Life
Did you know that a Relay for Life event will be held this June 12-13, 2010 at OFHS. If you are interested in forming a team and participating in this event, please contact Lisa Brady (216-870-2856) or Michelle LaGruth (440-235-9611). For more information about Relay for Life, please click here.
Did You Know – The Cost of Dropping Out of School?
$292,000. That is the cost incurred by taxpayers for each dropout over their lifetime in terms of lost earnings, and therefore lower taxes paid and higher spending for social costs including incarceration, health care, and welfare. “The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School” report, released in October 2009 by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Boston’s Northeastern University, offers a sobering look at the dropout crisis.
Transportation Changes – Effective January 4, 2010
As you know, as a result of the 3rd failed levy over the past twelve months, the Olmsted Falls School District is reducing bus transportation to state minimums effective January 4th, 2010 in order to further stretch the financial resources afforded to the District.
One direct result is that any student who lives within two miles of the school facility, he or she attends, will lose all transportation services. Today, 758 letters, affecting 1080 students, were mailed to parents who live within this two mile zone.
While this may have been the most difficult letter that I have had to send to parents in my 13 years as a superintendent, we need to give parents as much notice as possible in order to make the necessary arrangements to get their children to and from school.
Next week, letters will be mailed to those families who use the alternative transportation component, as this service will also be discontinued as of January 4th, 2010.
Finally, a meeting has been set for Saturday, December 12th at 10:00 AM at Olmsted Falls High School auditorium in order to answer any questions that parents may have regarding these transportation changes.
Levy Campaign Meeting
A reminder that a levy campaign meeting will be held this Sunday at 6:00 PM in the cafeteria at Olmsted Falls High School. I would highly encourage all parents and community members to attend this meeting and become a part of this upcoming levy campaign.
Masquers Fall Play
A reminder that tonight and tomorrow, at 7:30 PM, the OFHS Masquers will be presenting the play: The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon in the OFHS auditorium.
Tickets for this performance are $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens, and can be purchased “at the door” the evening of the performance.
SWC All-Conference Cross Country Selections
Congratulations to the following OFHS cross country runners who have received All-SWC honors for their efforts this past Fall Sports Season:
Attention High School Parents
Many parents are utilizing the Progress Book website to track the homework / grades of their children. Please be aware that a new feature will allow parents to register for an email alert for missing assignments or an email alert if their student’s grade drops below a preselected level.
For directions on setting up this option, please click here.
High School PTA
A reminder that the OFHS PTA will meet this Monday, November 23rd at 7:00 PM in the High School library.
“Junior Core” Team
Regency Construction Services, the construction management firm overseeing the Middle School facility addition, is sponsoring this activity for students interested in learning more about the construction project occurring at their school.
This week, the “Junior Core” team had its second meeting where the students learned how to “lay brick.” Below, please see a photo of this activity:
With the potential failure of the recent operating levy (vote count is not official until November 24th), plans are moving forward with implementation of the District’s Educational Reduction Plan.
One component of this Reduction Plan is reducing our bus service to state minimums, which will, in part, entail that bus service will no longer be provided to families who live within two miles of the facility which their child attends school.
I want to make families aware that a letter has been prepared and will be mailed by the end of this week to families affected by this change.
We are also planning written correspondence to those families who will be affected by the elimination of the alternative transportation services previously provided. We expect these letters will be mailed out before Thanksgiving break.
Additionally, with the implementation of the ½ mile walking zones, fewer overall bus stops will be necessary. As such, it is likely that children living outside the two mile zone will have a new bus stop location as of January 4th, 2010. The location of bus stops will be communicated to families in early / mid December.
Finally, it is likely that a public meeting will be held to answer parents’ questions regarding these transportation changes. Once the date and time of this meeting is established, it will be communicated to parents.
Levy Committee Begins Work
This past Sunday, 28 residents of the Olmsted communities began work on the February 2010 operating levy campaign. I would invite you to become a part of this committee.
It has become very clear to many in this community that voting yes is simply not enough.
We need our parents, and our community members, to come together and work together on this campaign if we are to have any expectation of passing this levy.
Again, voting yes in simply not enough to get this levy passed.
The levy committee will be meeting again, this Sunday at 6 PM in the cafeteria at Olmsted Falls High School. I encourage you to come to this meeting, get involved in this campaign, and work to ensure that the quality of our children’s education is not further sacrificed.
Masquers Fall Play
This Friday and Saturday, at 7:30 PM, the OFHS Masquers will be presenting the play: The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon in the OFHS auditorium.
Here is a description of this play: the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm are turned on their heads in this fast-paced, rollicking ride as two narrators and several actors attempt to combine all 209 stories ranging from classics like Snow White, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel to more bizarre, obscure stories like The Devil’s Grandmother and The Girl Without Hands. A wild, free-form comedy with lots of audience participation and madcap fun.
Tickets for this performance are $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens, and can be purchased “at the door” the evening of the performance.
OFIS PTA meeting
A reminder that the Olmsted Falls Intermediate School (OFIS) PTA will be meeting tonight at 7 PM in the Intermediate School Library.
High School Forensic Team
Congratulations to the OFHS Forensic (Speech and Debate) Team on their second straight top ten finish at the Lincoln-West tournament.
Olmsted Falls Early Childhood PTA – Holiday raffle and Casino Night
This Friday, November 20th, the OECPTA will hold their annual Holiday raffle and Casino Night at the West Side Irish American Club on Jennings Road. This event will begin at 6:30 PM. For more information on purchasing tickets for this event, please click here.
Polaris to Host First Annual College Night
College bound juniors and seniors, and their parents, are invited to attend the First Annual Polaris College Night on Tuesday, December 8, 2009, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.
The event will feature representatives from over 30 two- and four-year colleges and universities, the armed forces and numerous local apprenticeships. In addition, there will be two scheduled sessions highlighting financial aid resources that are available to perspective students.
The Polaris Guidance Office will also be available to discuss scholarship opportunities.
Some of the colleges / universities scheduled to participate include:
• Baldwin-Wallace College
• Bowling Green State University
• Cleveland Institute of Art
• Cleveland State University
• Cuyahoga Community College
• DeVry University
• Johnson & Wales University
• Lorain County Community College
• The Ohio State University
• Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics
• The University of Akron
• Ursuline College
• Virginia Marti College of Art & Design
For additional information, please visit the Polaris JVS website.
School Board Places 8.7 Mill Operating Levy on February 2, 2010 Ballot
Last evening, the Olmsted Falls Board of Education voted unanimously to place an 8.7 mill operating levy on the February 2, 2010 ballot. According to District estimates, this levy will generate funding to cover District operating expenses through the end of the 2012-2013 school year, at which point only a small cash reserve will remain.
Passage of this new levy in February will stabilize the District budget for the next three years without the need for new operating dollars during that time – just as the 6.4 mill levy in November would have done. The increase of this new levy from the previous 6.4 mills to 8.7 mills is a result of the loss of a year of tax collection by not passing a levy in calendar year 2009.
The 8.7 mill operating levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $22.20 per month. Passage of this levy will provide the funding necessary to reinstate busing services and keep extracurricular activities (including Middle School spring sports) intact. Additional information on the new ballot issue and updates regarding the District’s ongoing Educational Reduction Plan will be forthcoming. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact the Board office with any questions.
For more information on the process the Board of Education utilized in deciding to place this issue on the February 2010 ballot, please see the following two news stories from the Post-Sun Herald. (Article #1) (Article #2)
Reminder – No School for Students on Friday, November 13
H1N1 Vaccine to be Distributed this Sunday at Olmsted Falls Middle School
On Monday, the District received news that H1N1 vaccines will be available this Sunday, November 15th at Olmsted Falls Middle School from 10 AM – 5 PM. Persons interested in receiving this vaccine must pre-register. For registration information, please click here.
Enrollment of the Olmsted Falls City Schools
October 30th marked the end of the first grading period for the Olmsted Falls City School System. District enrollment on this date was:
319 – Early Childhood Center (PreK-K)
878 – Falls-Lenox Primary School (1-3)
566 – Intermediate School (4-5)
868 – Middle School (6-8)
1151 – High School (9-12)
17 – Students the District is responsible for, but who are educated offsite.
Olmsted Falls Academic Team
On Tuesday evening, the Olmsted Falls High School Academic Team competed in dual matches in the North East Ohio Academic League. In addition to Olmsted Falls, the schools that participate in this league are: Twinsburg, Garfield Heights, Highland, Bay, Fairview, Columbia, and Lutheran West.
Four rounds of play were completed in Tuesday’s competition. Our OFHS A team posted a record of 4-0, our B team posted a record of 3-1, and our C team posted a record of 2-2. Team members include: Jim Coury, Mike Coury, Michaela Killik, Chris Traylor, Eric Miranda, Emily Nageotte, Natalie Brdar, Brad Sevcik, Marty Mendenhall, Ethan Kocjan, Lucus Alstadt, Sohan Vartak, Pam Keller, and Tom Hoy.
The Academic Team will be back in action on Saturday, November 21st at a tournament at BGSU.
SWC All-Conference Football Selections
Congratulations to the following OF football players who have earned Southwest Conference league honors for their outstanding play this past season:
American Legion Donates Flags to New Intermediate School
On Friday, November 6, 2009, the American Legion donated 25 new United States flags for use in classrooms in our new Intermediate School. American Legion members Richard Kopp, Terry Pawlak, and Jim Bartell took time to explain to students the importance of the American flag to our country. These Olmsted community members also spoke about the importance of Veteran’s Day. They concluded their visit by leading all students in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
Olmsted Falls Intermediate staff and students are extremely grateful for this flag donation to our new Intermediate building. Thank you American Legion members for this donation, and more importantly, for your brave service to our nation.
Olmsted Falls High School is Fox 8 Cool School of the Week
I am happy to share that Olmsted Falls High School was featured this morning on Fox Channel 8 as the NE Ohio’s Cool School of the Week. To see this video, highlighting our High School, please click here.
OFHS Unveils New Band Uniforms
Thanks to the diligent work of the Olmsted Falls Music Association, our OFHS marching band has new uniforms. We want to thank the members of OFMA for their fundraising efforts and for their dedication to our children. Please see below two pictures that show off these new uniforms.
Board of Education Takes First Step Toward Placing Operating Levy on February 2010 Ballot
The Olmsted Falls Board of Education met on Thursday, November 5th at 7:oo PM in public session in order to discuss the results of the November 3rd vote on the 6.4 mill operating levy. At this meeting, the Board of Education took the first step in placing an operating levy on the February 2010 ballot by passing several resolutions. Note: Ohio Law dictates that the first resolution for placing an operating levy on the February ballot occur on or before November 9th.
After exploring a financial model that encompassed several assumptions (examples: future health care premium rate increases, number of teachers rehired should a levy pass, likely cut in funding from the State of Ohio in the summer of 2010) the Board of Education passed five resolutions asking the Cuyahoga County auditor to certify the of amount revenue that would be generated from a 7.9, 8.2, 8.4, 8.7, and 8.9 mill levy. According to Board of Education projections, only the 8.7 and 8.9 mill levies would allow the District to remain “in the black” through the 2013 school year.
The Board of Education has scheduled another public meeting on Wednesday, November 11th at 7:00 PM at the Board of Education building (white ranch house in front of Olmsted Falls High School) to again examine these financial projections. It is expected that the Board of Education will pass the second and final resolution necessary to place an operating levy on the February 2010 ballot (as the deadline for this action is November 19th).
Comments on Blog
It was great to see nearly 70 comments posted to the last blog post. Nearly 3,900 “visits to this blog” have occurred since the November 4th post. That is my goal for this blog, to present information to the members of the Olmsted community and allow for public discussion. As time allows, it is my intention to post responses to some of the posted comments, however, time does not allow for this at the present time.
While the District has offered several public meetings (both evening and weekend meetings were held) over the past two months in order to provide the members of our community with information on the financial operation of the school system, it is somewhat disheartening to read through several posted comments and discover truly how much misinformation or lack of understanding still exists in our community.
One major area of confusion obviously still exists regarding the construction revenue that was generated by the passage of the 2 mill bond issue in May 2007. This 2 mill bond issue generated approximately $16,000,000 and these funds were utilized for the construction of the new Intermediate School.
Hopefully you remember that the District was able to utilize this $16,000,000 of local funding as matching funds for an Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) program that awarded the District an additional $7,700,000. This information was shared in writing to all residents of the community in a Business Report which was mailed to homes in March 2008. This $7,700,000 is being utilized to build 20 additional classrooms onto Olmsted Falls Middle School.
Some have questioned why the District did not utilize the revenue from the 2007 Bond Issue, or the $7.7 million from the OSFC, to help cover the pending deficit in the District’s General Fund. Simply stated, this would not be a legal use for this money as it was passed by the Olmsted community for the purpose of construction. (Note: the language that appears on the ballot is called the purpose statement and clearly defines how the revenue generated by a tax issue may be used.)
Other community members seem to be confused when looking at the overall financial statements of the District and believe that this District has more money than it is stating. (Note: the District is audited on an annual basis by the Auditor of the State of Ohio and the results of these audits are available online.)
The quick answer to this is that the District’s financial statements show investments for both the General Fund and the Construction Fund. While each of these funds show up on the District’s books, the money from each fund cannot be combined. Simply stated, one fund is for the operation of the District and another fund is for payment to the contractors who are building the Intermediate School and Middle School addition. In order to see the present condition of the Olmsted Falls General Fund, and the projections of this fund over the next five years, please click here.
We look forward over the coming months to continue to hold community meetings so that the members of the Olmsted community can continue to learn about the financial operation of the Olmsted Falls City Schools.
Donuts with Dad
We are extremely blessed at Olmsted Falls schools to have a very active PTA that continually looks for ways to link our parents, students, and the school system together. Last week, our Falls-Lenox PTA sponsored Donuts with Dad. Here are some pictures from this event:
Olmsted Falls Varsity Wrestling – It is not just about winning, it is about “giving back.”
Annually, the Olmsted Falls varsity wrestling team is one of the strongest programs in NE Ohio. Our coaching staff, led by Head Coach Mr. McGrain, not only works to develop quality wrestlers, but the entire coaching staff also prioritize “giving back to the Olmsted community” as a way to develop quality young men. Last week, as part of their preseason conditioning program, our wrestlers raked leaves for several residents in the OF communities. Here are some pictures:
Statewide School Levy Results
Last week, several school districts from around the state of Ohio were on the ballot asking voters to approve various kinds of tax levies. While the overall passage rate, statewide, was 56.98%, the percentage of new operating money issues receiving voter approval dropped to 28.57%.
The following are the results for the various types of tax issues:
New Current Expense: 4 of 16 approved (25.00%)
Renewal Current Expense: 13 of 13 approved (100.00%)
Replacement Current Expense: 4 of 6 approved (66.67%)
New Substitute Tax levy: 2 of 2 approved (100.00%)
New Emergency: 4 of 22 approved (18.18%)
Renewal Emergency: 31 of 32 approved (96.88%)
Replacement Emergency: 1 of 1 approved (100.00%)
New Traditional Income Tax: 2 of 3 approved (66.67%)
Renewal Traditional Income Tax: 8 of 9 approved (88.89%)
New Earned Income Tax: 2 of 6 approved (33.33%)
Renewal Earned Income Tax: 0 of 1 approved (0.00%)
Repeal of Traditional Income Tax: 0 of 1 approved (0.00%)
New Permanent Improvement: 3 of 15 approved (20.00%)
Renewal Permanent Improvement: 15 of 16 approved (93.75%)
Replacement Permanent Improvement: 4 of 4 approved (100.00%)
New Bond Issues: 13 of 39 approved (33.33%)
The total count of issues for this analysis is based on the list provided by the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State. Please also know that some issues, like the Olmsted Falls levy, were extremely close, and some outcomes may change following the official count in each county and any necessary recounts.
I am writing in regard to the levy results from yesterday’s election. Presently, the vote count is 4343 “Yes” votes and 4545 “No” votes. While there are some provisional and absentee ballots still to be counted, it is not likely that there will be enough “yes” votes among those to put us over the top. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has advised us that we should have final election results by sometime this Friday.
Before I outline our next steps, I want to first take a moment to offer my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to the core members of our levy campaign committee. This small group of community members worked tirelessly over the past two months on behalf of our District’s operating levy. I also want to thank all of the other community members and employees of the District who devoted time, energy, and enthusiasm to this campaign effort. I cannot, in sufficient terms, express my gratitude for all of your efforts.
Looking ahead, the Board of Education has scheduled a meeting for this Thursday, November 5th at 7:00 p.m. in the Board office to discuss the next step in resolving the District’s pressing financial issues. It will be my recommendation to the Board of Education that another operating levy be placed immediately back on the ballot for the upcoming February 2010 election. The new millage rate for this next levy has yet to be determined, but because of the lost year of tax collections, will most likely be higher than 6.4 mills. The Board of Education must pass two resolutions before November 19th in order to place a new operating levy on the February ballot.
Should yesterday’s levy results become final and this levy not be successful, our District will not have any new operating money coming in through the end of calendar year 2010, which further exacerbates the District’s poor financial position. It will be critically important that we all work together to further stretch the limited financial resources we have available.
Once levy results have been finalized, and if this 6.4 levy does indeed fail, we will also begin the process of communicating to parents regarding the further reductions that will be put into place. The most significant reduction will be in K – 8 busing services which would be reduced to State minimum standards effective immediately upon return from winter break this January 4, 2010. This will require much advance communication to families living within the 2-mile cut-off zones to allow parents ample time to make arrangements for transporting their child(ren) to and from school beginning January 4. Additionally, our Middle School spring sports program will also be suspended. As further service reductions are implemented, the District will do its best to clearly communicate these changes to our parents and to our community.
In spite of yesterday’s potentially disappointing results, I would like to end on a positive note by commending the significant gain in community support that was demonstrated yesterday. In spite of the fact that many of our community members are still struggling in a very difficult economy, overall support of our District improved significantly from a 2-to-1 margin against the levy to the nearly half-and-half split we see this morning. This is a positive shift that we can feel good about.
This past Sunday, somewhere between 150 and 200 students and residents of the Olmsted Community came together for a march that was designed to bring awareness to the financial plight of our school system. Below, please see two pictures from this student-led initiative.
With the exception of the Early Childhood Center, it appears that the “flu bug” is finally beginning to subside as the number of students absent from school is largely back in the normal range.
On Monday, the number and percentage of students absent at District buildings were:
High School (43 absent) 5.8%
Middle School (44 absent) 5.0%
Intermediate School (34 absent) 6.0%
Falls Lenox (57 absent) 6.5%
Early Childhood Center (48 absent) 15.2%
Thank you parents for all of your help over this past 2 weeks. Hopefully the flu bug has left Olmsted Falls.
School Data Comparison Tool
Over the past year, as the various levy campaigns have been conducted, residents of the Olmsted Community have often asked how the finances or student data of the Olmsted Falls CSD compare to other school districts in the area. I want to make you aware of an easy-to-use tool, created by the Ohio School Board’s Association. To find out how Olmsted Falls CSD stacks up against other school districts, please click here.
Columbia Park residents volunteer at Early Childhood Center
Since the move of the District’s Preschool and Kindergarten classes from Falls-Lenox Primary School to the Olmsted Falls Early Childhood Center (Formerly called Fitch School), a new opportunity has presented itself for residents of Columbia Park to become “volunteers” at the ECC. Presently, six residents have become regular volunteers and we greatly appreciate their time and efforts in assisting with the learning needs of our “little bulldogs.”
If you, or someone you know would like to become a school volunteer at the Early Childhood Center, or at another District building, please call the District office at 427-6000.