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United Local defers state fund match for improvements

September 20, 2012

HANOVERTON - After receiving a request from the Ohio School Facilities Commission deferring participation in its program, United Local school board members unanimously approved a measure to not participate.

The OSFC provides matching money for districts looking to make major brick and mortar improvements while using a wealth-weighed formula to determine the local money that has to be contributed.

Last year, the school district twice voted down levies aimed at obtaining money for proposed upgrades.

Superintendent John Viscounte said the district is "still in the kitty" but last year the local fund percentage was 24 percent and this year it was raised to 27 percent.

It was as low as 21 percent at one point.

After the meeting, Viscounte said the district is ranked at 140 out of 612 school districts statewide.

Board member Sue Drotleff asked about how long the district had to participate.

Viscounte said the OSFC will continue sending the annual deferment notices.

The board resolution said specifically it didn't want to participate this year.

It will most likely be a long time before the district sees such percentages in its favor because of the wealth-building oil and gas related assets moving into Hanover Township.

It has 17 permitted wells and is the proposed site for a large-scale M3 Midstream LLC natural gas processing plant that will be built in partnership with Chesapeake Energy Corp. in Kensington.

That plant is part of a $900 million project that will span the county southward to Harrison County.

Drotleff noted that with the rise in district wealth a larger percentage would be assigned for it to pay for any projects with the OSFC.

In other business, the board approved a lease of one-quarter acre of its land on McCracken Road to Chesapeake Exploration for all the oil and gas and other minerals for one year.

The lease includes a $2,500 per acre ($625 for the district) price with no extension and a royalty interest equal to 17.5 percent.

The measure passed with a 4-1 vote with Mike Ellyson voting against it. He said that whoever the district sold it to after the contract expired "should have the right to negotiate" for the mineral rights, which the resolution agreement prohibited.

He said, "At $2,500 an acre we're only getting $625."

Board President John Zehentbauer said the property was "a liability" to the board.

In other action, the board heard a first reading on school policies; approved a social service contract for a licensed Social Worker to support families of students with disabilities for "Project Outreach."

The board approved bus stops and routes for the school year with the provision that the transportation supervisor and superintendent be authorized to adjust the bus route and stops as needed.

The board also hired LeAnn Albright as a part-time payroll clerk at $11 per hour for 90 days and after 90 days her rate will increase to $12.73 per hour.

With the retirement of Charles Schiffer, the board also approved employment of Vinson Ward and Monte Kesterke as custodians effective Sept. 24; and 16 mentor teachers at the rate of $17 per hour for a maximum of 30 hours for the school year; approved seven substitute teachers on an as needed basis; and added four teachers to the county substitute list; approved two substitute bus drivers; and approved one-year supplemental contracts for eight people while approving five volunteer coaches.

Also approved was an agreement between the Columbiana County Board of Development Disabilities for educational services for preschool and school age students served by the agency. There are six student and three preschoolers being served this year.

The board went into executive session to discuss or review negotiations with public employees and no action was taken.

Larry Shields can be reached at



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