The Northridge Board of Education met in regular session Sept. 20 to conduct ordinary business and continue its planning for the fall income tax renewal vote.

The Northridge Board of Education met in regular session Sept. 20 to conduct ordinary business and continue its planning for the fall income tax renewal vote.

Superintendent John Shepard said the administration was providing the board and the finance committee with alternative operating scenarios based on the passage or defeat of the Nov. 2 issue.

"When we do have a levy that impacts the revenue fund and funding for our district, we have a list of potential cuts," Shepard said. "They would occur for the 2011-12 school year. Some of the items would be increasing class sizes and reducing the school day to a minimum hour requirement. Then we have a list of reductions or possible reductions, elimination of programming."

Most of the district's budget goes to salary and benefits, Shepard said.

"Our operating cost as a district are people," Shepard said. "Any budget of a school district, between 85 percent and 90 percent of expenditures are on people.

"We want to make sure the levy committee and the board has before them the list of potential cuts that would make up the lost revenue if the levy did not pass in November. We all have a sick feeling in our stomach when we have to make these lists."

Board president Lee Hatfield said the board had changed its position from last spring's effort to pass a permanent income tax levy instead of one that had to be renewed by voters.

"Some folks thought the public was certainly not happy with the direction the board had gone in in the spring with continuing language on the ballot," Hatfield said. "We had felt fairly strongly there were two issues, one, voter fatigue and two, long-term fiscal policy of the district

"That wasn't successful. The day after the vote, people were calling, 'For my kid's extracurricular activities, should I go somewhere else?' We made a very clear comment from the board, we did not discuss cuts. If you look at this, it's potential reductions for 2011-212. That's next year. We're trying to plan ahead

"Please try to come out, push your neighbors to come out, to some of the levy committee meetings, so we can get accurate information out to the community."

In other business, the board approved flex credit policies and welcomed its new Chinese language teacher.

Shepard said the flex credit option was required under the recent school funding reform and would allow students to obtain high school credit outside the school itself.

"Our students do have those options and have been taking those options, whether it be an online course or an internship," Shepard said. "We have been active in that pursuit of credit flex. It's new. It's something every high school has to have in place. It outlines how students could go about getting credit without taking the traditional (classroom work)."

Shepard also introduced Tao Zhang, whose salary is being paid by grants.

"Some of you are thinking, 'Chinese at Northridge. Why?'" Shepard said. "He's here through the Ohio Department of Education, and the College Board. If you've taken the ACT you know what the College Board is. They are the folks who write and score the ACT."

Shepard said no one doubted the importance of Chinese-American trade.

"A third of the world speaks Chinese," Shepard said. "You look at our gross national product, most of what we do today intertwines with Chinese language culture."

The program is unique in the area, Shepard said.

"We wanted to think outside the box, how can we save some money and get a new program started here at Northridge that no one else has, in a school this size. We're the only school district in central Ohio this size that has a Chinese program with a full-time teacher."

Shepard said the grant funding that pays for the program was likely to continue.

"I'm sure we'll be able to keep him for a few years under this program, as long as he's happy here at Northridge."