School district now facing stark reality

THESE ARE tough times within the Switzerland of Ohio School District. Should an income tax measure the district is seeking fails in the November election, schools are being targeted for shutdown.

That is the word from Superintendent John Hall. He said if the 1-1.75 percent income tax measure is rejected, the Swiss Hills Career Center and Powhatan Elementary School both would close for the 2015-16 school year. Hall added that the plan is based upon a financial projection and still must be approved by the district’s board of education.

The district made extensive staff cuts this school year while also implementing play to participate and ceasing transportation for their athletic teams.

Such cutbacks are painful enough. Closing schools within the district is a sobering course of action. The Powhatan school is a gorgeous new facility. Swiss Hills, meanwhile, offers alternative education vital to the best interests of many of the district’s students.

Depending on the exact percent of the tax issue, it will raise anywhere from $3.7 to $4.2 million. Passage would yield money for district officials to do many things, including: hiring of up to 10 teachers to increase curriculum offerings including art and music; all buildings will continue to be used for students; continued reduction of transportation days pending state approval; and more board financial help for academic trips and extracurricular activities.

That would be a new lease on life for the district. The curriculum is now at bare bones level and not having art or music is shortchanging the students.

Keeping all the buildings open needs to happen. An $80-plus million building package produced new facilities throughout the expansive district. Closing them would be disastrous.

Helping with transportation costs would be a nice shot in the arm. Athletic teams have had to work hard to raise thousands and thousands of dollars for bus service.

I have heard many positive comments about John Hall as the new superintendent. I have faith that floating the school closure idea is not a scare tactic for voter support, but rather stark reality.

I don’t live within the district, but I believe hearing news that two schools are on the verge of closing would trigger my support for the tax issue.

If Powhatan and Swill Hills close, where does it stop? It could be a domino effect, one school after another shutting its door to save money.


I HAVE watched only a few minutes of the Winter Olympics. Other than U.S. hockey, there are no appealing events. The Summer Olympics, however, are the polar opposite for my viewing interests.

THE SONS of Italy Heritage Dinner is planned for Saturday, March 1. The event will be held at the Belmont Hills Country Club. Social hour begins at 5 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m. and dancing and music from 7 to 10 p.m. The entertainment will be provided by Ray Massa’s Eurorhtyhms, an internationally known Italian-American band. Tickets are $30 and must be purchased in advance by calling Tina at 740-676-1138 or Janice at 740-676-7137. Ticket availability is limited.

KUDOS TO the Belmont Community Hospital Auxiliary for its impressive fund-raising efforts. The auxiliary has raised $16,000 the last two years. The money has been used to make for more comfortable patient stays. The group has raised an amazing $600,000 since 1987. That is getting it done for all the right reasons.

LAST WEEK in this space, I penned that Bellaire High grad Terry Rataiczak was seeking a spot on the Caldwell Exempted Village Board of Education. He has since been appointed to the board, filling the unexpired term of former board member Abby Crock. Terry, the father of four, is a successful business owner in Caldwell, operating his own networking business, while also serving as the OVAC’s technology guru. As was the case in last week’s column, Terry is still the son of OVAC Executive Secretary Tom Rataiczak.

VALENTINE’S DAY is big business in the U.S. romancers spent more than $17 billion on Valentine-related gifts this year.

THE?NEXT Bellaire Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon/meeting will be Thursday at noon in the Community Room of Bellaire Public Library. The cost of the luncheon is $7. There is no charge to attend the meeting. Meatball hoagies from Lil’ Gerardo’s will be served. All local business owners and their employees are welcome to attend. Please make your reservation by Tuesday.

TIMES LEADER Sports Editor Seth Staskey is a happy camper these days. His good mood spawned from the news that Big Lots has become the official thrift outlet for Twinkies. Seth is big on both Twinkies and Big Lots. There are 1,493 Big Lots throughout the nation, selling Twinkies at discount prices.

FOR THOSE who want to learn about the Belmont County Veterans Service Office and the services provided, a representative will be at the community booth of the Ohio Valley Mall on Feb. 22. Literature on benefits and other resources will be available.

THE BELLAIRE Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday to act on personnel. My guess is that the board is ready to hire a new head football coach.

Kapral may be reached at