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Cuyahoga Falls school board reviews schedule, budget concerns

By Marchae Grair correspondent

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In this file photo, the Cuyahoga Falls school board addresses budget concerns during a past meeting. Member Kellie Patterson (right) was named president of the board on Monday. (Marchae Grair/ file photo)

CUYAHOGA FALLS: The Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education discussed pressing issues about the district’s budgets, policies, and schedules at its meeting last Monday.

School board member Kellie Patterson motioned to table confirming the 2013-2014 school calendar until the board reviewed the time of year which the school district schedules spring break.

Patterson wants the school board to review how well the spring break aligns with other districts that have shared resources. She also showed concern for the spring being too early, calling the current break more of a “late winter break.” The board voted unanimously to table the calendar’s approval until spring break is reexamined.

Budget talks were a primary factor in the most-debated topic of the board meeting, which was a denied field trip proposal to Washington, D.C for eighth-grade students from Bolich and Roberts Middle Schools.

The school board, who unanimously supported the idea of the trip, debated if it would be against the policies of both the district and the State of Ohio to take a trip, which would require students to pay for transportation.

Karen Schofield was the most vocal board member about this possible breach in policy, which states the school board cannot charge students for transportation for school-sponsored activities that happen during school hours.  

The trip, proposed by principals from both Bolich and Roberts, would have started on a Wednesday, requiring students to pay for transportation during a technical school period.

A representative for the company that would have driven the students to Washington D.C. suggested the school board review the policy, as he believed it applied solely to the use of school buses to transport students, not charter buses.

The board also considered moving the trip to Friday, to avoid policy violations, but the board concluded they were not comfortable with the idea of some students not being able to attend if they couldn’t generate the funds to go.

Students who went on the trip would have paid $349.

“Ultimately, the students who don’t get to go are going to be the students who never see Washington D.C.,” Schofield said.

Schofield continued to say every student deserves to go on educational field trips, even if their parents can’t afford it.

 Based on the inability to conclude how the policy should be interpreted and a discomfort with the cost burden on the parents of each student, the school board unanimously removed the trip from the agenda, but said it could be something to revisit in the future.

Special needs class

The board also visited the topic of budgets for an adapted aquatics class for special needs students. This time, the existence of the program wasn’t at question. Instead,

President David Rump motioned to table approving the budget for the aquatics class until the board could get an explanation from the city of Cuyahoga Falls about why they are charged for the rental of the pool at the Natatorium. Rump said he did not recall it being traditional practice for the city to charge such prices for the school system’s use of their facilities, and he would like an explanation. 

Petty was the dissenting vote on this motion, saying he thinks the rate charged for the aquatics class, including the rental of the pool, is reasonable.

Other items:

The board approved many policies discussed at a special Nov. 8 meeting, but tabled two policies until they can evaluate them further.

The board considered instating a rule to require any teacher who hosts a student teacher to at least have one year of experience. 

There was also a motion to adjust language about the vaccination policy for students entering kindergarten, to reflect that the school system’s pay for the shots.

Both were tabled, in a 5-0 vote.