Switzerland of Ohio: New schools, not enough money

WOODSFIELD With the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District levy failing at the May 7 election, parents, teachers and students are asking what is next for the 547-square mile school district.

“This is the best of times and the worst of times for the board and school district,” said Switzerland of Ohio Local School District Superintendent Larry Elliott. “The schools that desperately needed replaced were replaced, that’s the good thing that has happened. The worst of times is our current levy defeat. I’m disappointed, my entire staff is disappointed.”

Elliott went on to state that the board and levy committee worked tirelessly to inform voters of the importance of this levy.

With the levy defeat, the school district is not only forced to live within its means, but now has to make some hard choices and cuts. This is part of its contingency plan which will now move into Phase II and III. Phase II and III consist of cutting teaching positions as well as programs, and athletic programs now have to be self-sufficient. The district will also have another hiring freeze, which means it cannot hire anyone to fill positions.

The athletic programs will have to cover all costs; other schools have a pay-to-play program, but not to the extreme that Switzerland will have to go. The athletic programs will have to be self- sufficient but the board is not sure how far that the self- sufficiency will go and whether each program will have to pay for transportation, equipment and officials, not to mention utilities for the event. How far should this self- sufficiency policy go is a question the board is currently asking itself.

“We spent the better part of three hours going around and around about how we do self-sustaining sports,” said Lance Erlwein, district treasurer. “What would be included in the cost, how would we bill it – and after three hours we went around in a circle, there was not one good method or way to do it. There was a loser no matter how we looked at it That’s the hardest problem I have faced here.”

One of the biggest questions that was asked at the Thursday night’s meeting is what is the deadline for these cuts and when will the public and all those involved find out. Along the same lines, parents were asking about the pay-to-play that will affect the sporting teams in Switzerland of Ohio Local School District.

Parents, especially those who have multiple children playing, are worried about the price for their son or daughter to continue to participate in sports. At this point, the board members do not have an idea what the cost will be or what programs will be cut.

“You will get an answer; I am not saying tonight because there are a lot of things we have to go over, we don’t know what we are going to cut and we have no figures in front of us,” said Board President Ron Winkler. “The levy just failed, we don’t know what we are going to do.”

Van Dyne can be reached at kvandyne@timesleaderonline.com.