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River View Board continues discussions on possibly closing Union

| November 13, 2018

WARSAW – For the past 54 years the River View Local School District has been very dependent on revenue it receives from the AEP Power Plant.

“Having the power plant, along with sound, responsible fiscal management, are major reasons for why the River View Board of Education has been able to offer the quality education and opportunities that this community has been proud of and has enjoyed over the past half century,” said Superintendent Dalton Summers. “This constant revenue source is the reason we, unlike other similar districts to ours, have been able to provide our students the things they need and deserve without going to the voters for operating money since 1991.”

Unfortunately the board has seen about a $1.2 million decrease in its funding due to the devaluation of the power plant. In October 2017, the power plant was devalued by the Ohio Department of Taxation, going from $72.2 million to $34.7 million.

“This requires immediate attention on the part of the board of education and community,” Summers said. “The complete closure of this plant will add another $1 million to the deficit.”

The school district was recently made aware that the power plant plans for units five and six to go offline as early as May 2019 with unit four remaining only until May 2020.

“The next few months will require a lot of important decisions on the part of the board,” Summers said. “We will be trying to present as many options as possible. There will be some decisions that can be made strictly from a logical and responsible standpoint. Many will need to be made based on what the community will be willing to support.”

One option the board is looking at to help save money is closing Union Elementary. When the board first found out about the devaluation of the power plant it sought the assistance of ENLIT, a company that studies district efficiencies.

“We asked them to study everything, but to really start with looking at what consolidating Union Elementary with Warsaw Elementary would save the district,” Summers said. “There were two reasons we had them look at this. We know Warsaw is a big enough building to do this and we would only have to possibly put in two portable classrooms to make classes more comfortable. It also was because of geographical location. For the majority of the students at Union, Warsaw is the next closest elementary. Conesville might be for some, but it’s not as logistical.”

They also had ENLIT analyze what it cost to educate a student in each building. Union, which has between 165-170 students, had the highest costs.

These findings were presented at a special board meeting in October.

“Our first step is to figure out how we can become more efficient without lessoning educational opportunities for our kids,” Summers said.

At the board’s Nov. 8 meeting Kendra Whiteus, the district’s food services director, reported on changes that would need to be made at Warsaw’s cafeteria if a consolidation occurred. At the December board meeting Joel Moore, transportation director, will report on how closing Union would impact bus routes.

“We’ve said all along that we will not have students riding the bus longer than the longest route now,” Summers said.

They also are looking into the proper way to abate the building after it is closed.

“If the board is going to take action on this it will have to be by the end of the year,” Summers said. “I’ve told them I have to have January, February, March, April, May, June and July to do this. It’s not a small undertaking.”

If the consolidation does take place, it will save the district around one mil, which is $409,000.

“What the board really wants people to know is that they are doing everything they can do to maintain what we have always offered, but with this loss in revenue there are going to have to be some adjustments,” Summers said.

The River View Board of Education’s December meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, in the administrative building.

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Category: Education

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