The Canal Winchester Times

Groveport Madison schools

Board agrees to start ALICE training


The Groveport Madison Board of Education agreed last week to follow recommendations from two local police departments and provide ALICE training for teachers and students in grades 6-12.

Board members delayed voting on the proposal last month while they sought additional information about the program, which is endorsed by both the Groveport and Madison Township police departments.

ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.

The vote at the board's April 11 meeting was 4-1, with Vice President Nancy Gillespie opposing the plan.

"I'm very uncomfortable with what it is asking our elementary kids to do," she said. "Plus, I'm very, very nervous about the first time we drill this and the second- or third-grader goes home and tells the parent, 'Guess what we did today?' and the parent says, 'I didn't know anything about it.' "

Superintendent Bruce Hoover said ALICE is one step in improving the safety of the schools.

He told the board it would start a pilot program for students at the secondary level before any recommendation is made to use it at the elementary level.

Board members also got a look last week at how different state budget proposals could affect district finances.

Treasurer Anthony Swartz presented the state-aid estimates he received that morning. Under Gov. John Kasich's budget plan, he said, Groveport Madison schools would have received a 15.4 percent increase in state funding -- $4.1 million -- in fiscal year 2014, and a 4.6 percent increase -- or $1.4 million more -- in fiscal year 2015.

In FY2013, the district received $28.6 million in state assistance, which is a significant portion of its $70 million operating budget.

Under the House of Representatives plan, no school district in the state could receive more than a 6 percent increase in funding, Swartz said.

He told the board the House version would provide the schools with $1.7 million more in aid in FY 2014 and $1.8 million in FY 2015.

"If there was no cap in the House's version of this budget, the calculations would have resulted in an additional $6.5 million for Groveport, but because of the cap at 6 (percent), we're looking at $1.7 million increase in funding," said Swartz. "And while that sounds like a lot of money, that covers about one payroll in the district."

The House version of the state budget may see further changes when the Ohio Senate takes it up for review, but board member Charlotte Barker said the district cannot rely on funding from the state when it sets its own budget.

"What I see in all these numbers is the fact that as a district, we're going to have to look out for ourselves and if we get the money from the state -- thank you, Santa Claus -- it's going to be extra money," Barker said.

"We do not count on any of this as an increase in funding," Swartz said. "We're setting things up for whatever happens and cutting what needs to be cut, depending on how much money we have.

"If this money comes through, then we can reassess what we can bring back."

In May, Groveport voters will decide the fate of a $5.5 million, five-year emergency levy that the district has placed on the ballot to help with a projected $4.7 million deficit next school year.