Hope growing at Green

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, August 18, 2009

FRANKLIN FURNACE — A new year, a new opportunity.

Coming off a year that saw its primary school condemned because walls were “tearing” away from its foundation and a proposed 7.9-mil emergency operating levy overwhelmingly defeated by voters, students and administrators district wide look to put the past behind them.

While Green Local Schools are by no means out of the woods either financially or structurally, a few recent events have shown that the light at the end of the tunnel may not be the train traveling the other way.

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Since May when Superintendent Ron Lindsey wrote the school system’s “manifesto” to Gov. Ted Strickland about the seriousness of the issues currently plaguing Green schools, things have gotten a little brighter for Lindsey and the district’s 650 students.

“There have been some things that have come into place for us the past few months that could help us,” Lindsey said while discussing the upcoming 2009-2010 school year.

The biggest, according to the district’s top administrator, is a change in the way schools are funded statewide. Lindsey said if implemented, the new funding formula could greatly improve the district’s chances of getting on the same playing field as other districts.

Much of the new plan is an “evidence based” funding formula that has the ability to justify a parents and region’s economy and education.

That proposal could help Green as they have been punished by the current “validation per pupil” funding method that due to the large number of business tax abatements in Green Township has hindered the district financially and facilities wise for years.

The granted abatements do not show the true “plight” of the district.

“This could be a totally radical shift on how schools are funded,” Lindsey said. “However the reality of how much it could help is still unknown.”

In his letter to Strickland, Lindsey wrote that the without some major changes in how Ohio schools are funded, the district would be out of money by May 2010. While Lindsey said the possibility of that happening is never out of the question, several recent events might have delayed that for a bit.

First was the “little bit” of stimulus monies the district received from the federal government earlier this year; second, was the elimination of three full time positions within the district following the retirement of three teachers; third is the current negotiations with the district’s bargaining-unit teachers.

While not discussing specifics of current negotiations, Lindsey did say the number of years the contract is for is one of the sticking points.

However, the biggest news that came from the Scioto County school district this summer was the $280,000 loan the district secured to purchase modular units for students displaced by the closing of the primary school.

Currently in the process of being installed in the elementary school’s courtyard, the four-classroom modular building is connected from all points and does have multiple restrooms.

Lindsey said based on the condition of the primary school, the district had no choice but to authorize the emergency purchase despite offers for others in the community.

“We looked at churches in the area; however a closer look ends up having the district dealing with licensure problems, transportation issues and restroom concerns for students,” Lindsey explained.

As for the superintendent, the upcoming year does hold hope for him on different professional levels.

First, Lindsey said his dedication to the district has never been stronger despite his recent interest in other vacant superintendent positions.

“I really like this district and we will be ok,” Lindsey said.

Second, is Lindsey being named as one of 10 superintendents statewide to serve as a part of a delegation to China with its mission to have an educational exchange with students and teachers from the other side of the world.