Rocky Fork Enterprise

Scruci calling for permanent improvements levy of 2-3 mills

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Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools Superintendent Francis Scruci is urging the school board to place a permanent improvements levy before voters in the fall.

The board faces an Aug. 6 deadline to file required legislation with the Franklin County Board of Elections. The board already filed a resolution by the July 7 deadline to place a possible bond issue on the Nov. 4 ballot to construct one new building.

Scruci told the board July 10 that the district needs to maintain what it has.

"We all agree there needs to be a master plan to address the entire district," he said. "If we don't have a PI levy as part of district, it will be a problem. You have to have a PI to maintain what you have."

He said technology would need to be upgraded, and a PI could help the district with buses, HVAC, lighting and windows.

"We have the issue of what to do with Lincoln (Elementary School)," he said. "We're putting modulars at Blacklick because we don't have enough space. Regardless of what master plan we have, Lincoln will be on that list."

If the district proceeds to place any issue on the November ballot, Scruci said, he needs to form a campaign committee.

"We need to get information together to share with the community," he said. "We need to show this is real. It's a real situation we're in. Our recommendation is, at the least, to put a PI on. The decision is 2 mills or 3. Personally, I would recommend the bigger. We have a lot of issues."

In other board discussion, Scruci said, the district has 35 educators who are eligible to retire this year. They each have 29 to 34 years of experience, he said.

"We see a movement of people leaving districts," Scruci said. "I've been talking to people to see why. You're getting a lot of administration leaving. You have people moving up. People are taking advantage of administration positions."

He said Gahanna saw six or seven people leave the district because of a spouse taking a job out of state.

With gas prices, he said, some teachers are finding jobs in the communities where they live rather than driving elsewhere.

"Oddly enough, as long as pressure continues to be on classroom teachers with testing, you will see more people leaving the profession," he said. "We had four people leave for the private sector. There's so much pressure on them. How many people are going to stay in education? That's something we need to continue to look at."

For the 2014-15 academic year, Scruci said, the district has staff in place.

He said human-resources director Matt Cygnor has done a great job of replacing quality teachers.

"Matt didn't sleep a couple days," he said. "It's a tough situation. To get that quality, it comes at a higher price. While we're pleased to have good people join, it does come at a cost associated with experience."

Scruci said it's frustrating when personnel are hired in Gahanna, and some continue to look for jobs and leave without little notice.

"We think we have our staff set and someone waits to July 7 or 8, and they take a job elsewhere," he said. "It's the nature of the game."

Certificated employees who were hired July 10 on one-year contracts and their annual salaries include Raymond Adams, Lincoln High School math teacher, $59,954; Alexandria Harper, Middle School West eighth-grade language arts, $49,269; Dana Hutchinson, Blacklick Elementary School first-grade teacher, $45,114; Kevin Leopold, Middle School West seventh-grade language arts, $39,574; Jessica Long, Chapelfield Elementary School fourth-grade teacher, $62,131; and Erica Shearer, Chapelfield Elementary School preschool early intervention specialist, $51,347.

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