By John A. Ballentine
A public meeting was held October 31 by the Bradford School District, Village of Bradford and the Stark County Economic Development Partners to discuss the future use of the junior high building.
A committee of district school board members presented their ideas for repurposing the building to approximately 40 people.
According to Superintendent Ellin Lotspeich, “The reason why we called this meeting is to look at opportunities that we can work together on as a group, as a community, to ensure that we keep our school here in Bradford and to keep our village going.
“We are looking at the district’s facility needs. In the grade school we have had a declining K-8 population, as has almost every district in the State of Illinois.”
Lotspeich said the school district is considering consolidating the junior high and grade school classes at the grade school building. She pointed out that due to low enrollment numbers, there are empty classrooms in each building.
“Most of the class sizes are currently under 20 students,’ Lotspeich said. The largest class size has 23 students. “We have some advantages of using only the grade school building.”
Those advantages are:
• Improved faculty and staff communications of student needs.
• Students not having to walk between buildings for lunch, library and classes.
• The elimination of redundant resources in the two buildings.
are going to be watching the budgets much more closely and we expect you to stay within budget.”
To date, the only county department currently over budget is the Sheriff’s office, the remaining deficit comes from the sharp decline in sales tax to about 60% of last year’s figures.
Department heads were presented letters with the amount they were to cut from their next year’s budget and return within 48 hours. For the Sheriff’s Office, the applied reduction means $144,900.
“Nobody is to go outside their budget without first coming to the board for approval,” concluded Magnussen.
Stark County Treasurer Katrina Rewerts stated that in speaking with the auditor herself he had other suggestions as ways to balance the budget other than a 20% cut, including increasing the amount taken out of tort liability for salaries, which the county has done in the past.
“We heard them Katrina, but this is what we are doing,” stated Magnussen. Rewerts continued, saying she was not sure the rest of the board had heard the options.
“We already take out of the tort fund and that gets a little shady when you start putting…” Magnussen replied.
The transfer is allowable and involves accounting for insurance risk reduction by an employee through the performance of their job duties.
There are also five other special accounts that have $30,000-50,000 in each of them that could be used to lessen the blow to each department.
“We may have to use those too,” said Zerla.
No cuts were made to the general fund, the budget that pays for all expenses not covered by a department. It accounts for a $186,085 divot in the county’s bottom line.
The board then moved into executive session to discuss labor negotiations with the union that represents employees of the Sheriff’s Office.
After reconvening the board voted unanimously to reject the tentative agreement presented and to reopen negotiations with the Policemen’s Benevolent Protective Association.
“I think they made a big mistake,” said Union President Chuck Demetreon after the vote. “The Sheriff is already talking about laying off five employees (with the new budget restrictions) and voting this down will sacrifice the safety of the officers and the community.”
Demetreon says the agreement the county board was considering was one the board proposed to the union, and a negotiation team from the board had even agreed to it previously.
“This was their counter-offer that they voted down,” said Demetreon.
Speaking on behalf of his union, Demetreon believes that negotiations will not be reopened and the county will receive notice of mediation, the first step to resolving the issue. If mediation fails, arbitration is the final step, and a costly one to the county’s bottom line.