Delaware News

Big Walnut may seek indoor venue for graduation

Heat caused problems at this year's ceremony

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Big Walnut Local School District leaders decided earlier this year to break with tradition and move the high school's graduation ceremony from a Saturday to a Sunday next year.

The next step might be to move the graduation site.

Superintendent Steve Mazzi told the school board Monday, June 10, that moving graduation from the football stadium to an indoor location next year might make sense. At this year's graduation ceremony, a woman had a medical emergency, apparently due to the hot weather, Mazzi said.

"We've had people checked in the past; this is the first time we've had somebody transported," he said. "The sun drives right into the stands, the metal bleachers ... It's definitely warm up there."

The woman was fine after treatment, Mazzi said.

Board President Allison Fagan said such unfortunate incidents are not how people want a graduation day to be remembered.

Board member Pamula Lillie pointed out the Delaware Area Career Center holds its graduation at the Aladdin Shrine Center in Columbus.

"I would encourage looking at an alternative location," she said.

The district does not have an indoor facility that is suitable for graduation.

Resident Rob Galindo, who said his daughter will graduate next year, questioned why the day of graduation had to be moved to Sunday. He said the move could interfere with people going to religious services, and added that people traveling from out of town for graduation wouldn't get home until late Sunday night.

Mazzi said after the meeting that discussions about moving the graduation to a different location probably will begin in August or September. He also said while next year's graduation is set for 3 p.m. May 18, there could be further discussion about it.

One of the reasons it was moved from Saturday is because that day always seems to conflict with various co-curricular and extracurricular activities, including sporting events, giving seniors a tough choice between graduation or a playoff game, officials said.

Also at last week's meeting, district Treasurer Felicia Drummey told the board she expects when the fiscal year 2013 books are closed June 30, the district will have a difference of $1.1 million more than was anticipated in the 2013 annual general fund budget. The budget is about $28 million.

Revenue for the year is up about $583,000 more than estimated, and expenditures are down by nearly $561,000 in the 3,000-student district.

"This is the way we want it to be (with revenues up and expenditures down). I do expect this trend to hold through the end of June," Drummey said.

She said after the meeting that both income-tax revenue and state aid are higher than projected. Concessions by school district labor unions, particularly in benefits such as health care, helped to drive down the expected costs for the fiscal year.

Also during the meeting, the school board approved Jeff Jones, formerly assistant principal at Delaware Hayes High School, as the new principal of Big Walnut High School. He was given a two-year contract with a salary of $90,000 per year. Other compensation and benefits for Jones total $38,494.

He replaces Steven Fujii, who left for a job at the Delaware County Career Center.

Middle school teacher Laura Wood was named the district's new director of academic achievement. Her contract is for two years at an annual salary of $68,000. Other compensation and benefits total $32,895.

She replaces Angie Pollock, who recently was promoted to assistant superintendent.

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