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United Local BOE member responds

November 13, 2013
Salem News

o the editor:

I'd like to set the record straight on some United Local issues raised during the recent election campaign.

First, at the Guilford Lake Civic Association "Meet the Candidates Night" on Oct. 31, I was questioned about United's new central offices. I said the board of education wanted to centralize the administrative offices for a couple of years. Some of you may recall during the bond issue campaigns of 2011, the BOE spoke of keeping the kindergarten wing for administrative offices in order to centralize our staff. After the failure of the bond issue (twice), the BOE discussed creating centralized offices in another area of the junior high. But that did not come to fruition.

At our annual Management, Goals and Objectives meeting held this spring, the BOE decided to centralize the offices this year, along with several other projects. This MGO meeting is when the board decides what spending will be done for the coming school year, as well as looking at long range planning the MGO process began when Gary Meier was superintendent in the late 1980's and has been conducted by every BOE since then. It's a great tool for financial planning and all purchases are discussed at length and then built into our annual budget.

Second, I was also questioned at the Civic Association meeting, about what had been done with the $6 million permanent improvement funds. The question caught me off guard and I asked the man what he was referring to. He said he was told the BOE had a $6 million balance in PI funds and wanted to know how it was spent. I told him there had not been a $6 million dollar balance in PI and what/who was his source for the information. He declined to publicly identify the source, but insisted the BOE had $6 million and what had the BOE spent it on. I told him the BOE has never had a $6 million balance in the PI funds and questioned if perhaps his source had confused PI funds with our General Fund. At times, our General Fund has a $6 million balance, including all our encumbered funds.

When the man persisted in claiming that balance was for PI funds and that it had been there a couple of years, I told him that was not the case, and if in fact, the BOE had that kind of money in PI funds, we would have built the new school two years ago and wouldn't have needed to come to the voters for the Ohio Schools Facility Project.

Third, a recent letter to the editor implied that new centralized offices cost $504,127. The contract with Chevron Energy Solutions Company which was approved by the BOE was for several projects determined at our MGO meeting. Included in the $504,127 contract with Chevron was replacement of 34 windows in the junior high, replacement of the roof on the junior high wing, replacement of five sets of double doors and three other entrance doors, a computerized security system with door fobs, and the centralizing of our administrative offices.

The contract provided for comprehensive design/build and energy services for all of these projects. At the superintendent's recommendation, the BOE passed a resolution of urgent necessity for this contract in order to get the work completed as soon as possible. This is the only time I recollect the BOE has done a project in this fashion. All other projects have been done under normal bidding procedures. The state of Ohio has a permit process and it took much longer to get the necessary permits than was anticipated, so some of the work was not begun/completed until after the start of the school year. Renovations are disruptive. Efforts were made to minimize disruption to education. But unfortunately our students were without the use of the library for two months.

Fourth, all financial data at United Local is public record and audited by state officials. There are no "hidden" funds. If you have financial questions, ask. The information will be provided to you. Our figures are in black and white, there are no shades of grey.

Finally, if you have questions about the operation of United Local Schools, please ask one of your school board members. That's our "job" as your elected representatives. We're very approachable and known to you as members of this United community - not "faceless bureaucrats." The business of the school is conducted in public meetings. You are welcome to attend. Please get the facts, rather than rely on those who perhaps have hidden agendas or an ax to grind.

Sue Drotleff

United Local School Board of Education member



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