Superintendent’s Beehive Buzz
September 24, 2014
Although the past few weeks have been fast-paced and buzzing with activity, Bethel Local Schools seems like it is finally settling into the routines of school. For many of you, those routines bring with it a variety of emotions as you try to manage homework, fundraisers, sports practices, music practices, games and five different schedules all at one time! And just in case you didn’t know or have forgotten, Progress Reports should be arriving this Friday, September 26, on your doorstep via your child’s book bag and/or other forms of interesting transportation! Also, be sure to check out our website to read the weekly newsletters that our principals have been sending through email to parents and interested community members. If you would like to be a part of their mailing lists, just email your address to the respective principal and/or call their office requesting to be placed on the newsletter list. The more, the merrier!
As I have been out in the community getting to know people, two repeating themes with many questions seem to creep into the conversations: building project and open enrollment. Let’s tackle open enrollment first. At the present time Bethel Local Schools does participate in the state’s open enrollment program (B.P. 5113). This program allows for students from other districts to enroll in the BethelLocalSchool District as long as there are seats available without increasing District expenditures for staff or equipment. The state money for these students comes out of the home district’s budget and follows the students to the district in which they are enrolling. At the present time, the district has nearly 46 Bethel students participating in open enrollment to other districts and 25 in community school programs; this means that $462,074.00 is leaving our general fund and being transferred into the treasury accounts of other surrounding districts and community school programs. (I certainly hope you are thinking what I am thinking at this moment…That’s one big stash of cash!). In order to recoup the loss of this money from our general budget and save our taxpayers from carrying this burden, we have allowed students from other districts to come to Bethel only in those grade level classes where numbers may be smaller than the normal size. Presently, we are bringing in $561,820.00 from other districts by allowing the open enrollment program at Bethel. By doing this, the other districts aren’t the only ones benefitting from participating; we are, too! In fact, we made money this year which helps us pay for those unexpected expenses and surprises that come along the way,
especially in an older building like ours! This spring the administrators from the building will meet with me to determine how many students we could possibly take for the 2015-2016 school year in the Bethel district. With all the new residential building occurring in BethelTownship, it’s sometimes difficult to make accurate projections! But be assured, that we will limit open enrollment to only those classes where we are not seeing huge growth and there is definitely room! This year there were several grade levels in the elementary in which we had to add an extra section; it is important to realize that those additional students were not connected to open enrollment but to the number of new families moving into Bethel! Excitedly,
Bethel Local Schools welcomes this growth and readily embraces the changes and challenges that come as we move forward to become a 21st Century school district.
Now about that building project…for the past few months, the Core Team, comprised of the architects, board members, construction managers and administrators, has been working meeting to finalize a plan to present to the community. Two major issues that needed to be handled before the architects could move forward involved the Ohio Department of Transportation and the reports of the Geotechnical Engineering. In regards to ODOT, issues arose about the entrances and turning lanes from SR 201. Just recently, ODOT determined that they will only require a dedicated left turn lane (for those traveling north on 201) and a southbound deceleration lane (for those traveling south on 201). We will also have to do some road widening immediately in front of the school to accommodate these ODOT requirements. In addition, Geotechnical Engineering performed soil borings earlier in the summer and identified shallow bedrock in the area of the first planned development, thus the reason for the delay of the construction starting in July. The architects and their design team immediately went to work to make modifications to the site plan to minimize excavation into the bedrock and still keep the overall site design strategy intact. With those two major issues out of the way, we are ready to have a Community Meeting to review the site plan development since the summer and the changes made to accommodate the ODOT requirements and the bedrock issues. On Monday, October 13 at 6:00 PM before the regular board meeting, there will be a public session during which the architects as well as the construction company will provide a building update with finalized renderings and the project’s new schedule and anticipated completion date. If time permits, there will also be a question and answer time at the end of the session. This will be the perfect opportunity to have your questions answered about the project and worry about more important things that are coming….like the fact that the holidays are just around the corner! Hope to see you at the meeting!
Enough buzzing for the moment! Enjoy this lovely fall weather we are having! It’s not going to be long before you start checking for weather delays and cancellations on your television and waiting for ONE CALL messages!