Loss of students concerns UL officials

MORRISTOWN Attendance is slightly up in the Union Local School District this year, but the district officials are learning the district is beginning to lose a small number of students to online learning centers at Thursday night’s regular scheduled board meeting.

“This is going to cost us $60,000 a year because we do not get the money for these students,” Technology Coordinator Jeff Bizzarri explained. “I don’t know what the attraction is to these online schools.”

According to Bizzarri, Union Local currently has 13 students opting to take online classes rather than attend one of the three schools in its district.

A few of these students are taking online classes for medical reasons, but in discussion it was deemed many chose online learning because of its technology capabilities.

“We need to reach out to these kids and show what (UL) has to offer,” Bizzarri said as the youngest of these 13 students is a kindergartener.

Bizzarri’s building administrator also addressed current technology concerns with the district’s web site as well as some of the computer technology in the three buildings.

“We are going to establish a technology committee in each building,” Bizzarri said as a committee decided it was going to redesign the district’s website to offer more information and become more user friendly. “We decided the school’s website was insufficient and not achieving our goals that we set forth for it.”

Positive technology activity Bizzarri included in his report was the use of a new computer lab in the high school giving the building two computer labs.

“This is the first time in four years we had two computer classes at the high school going. This has allowed 80 kids to take an entry level computer class,” Bizzarri said. “Out upper level interactive media classes only have five students in them and we hope to increase that number with the addition of this new lab.”

Bizzarri also managed to upgrade computers in the elementary school by adding 45 new work stations.

“Our problem was we purchased these programs like Study Island to get our kids ahead and didn’t have the computers to run the programs,” Bizzarri said.

In other board business, district residents Chad Blake and Rob Barr joined the public participation part of the meeting complaining about the high cost of the new parking fees initiated this year to high school students.

At $20 per student, Blake and Barr both agrees the cost was too high especially when Treasurer Shawn Miller presented a parking fee survey showing what other school district in Ohio charge students to park at school.

“It’s not fair,” Barr said.

After being pushed back to unfinished business, Board President Jennifer Schmitt made a motion to lower the parking fee to $10 for each student. The motion was seconded by board member Stan Sobel. The motion was then passed by a slim 3-2 vote.

Students paying the original fee will now be reimbursed $10.

Future committee meetings include:

  • Building and Grounds on Sept. 24
  • Safety and School Health on Nov. 3.

Cook can be reached at bcook@timesleaderonline.com