2012: A year of transition for Marysville school district
Board President Jeff Mabee called 2012 a year of transition for the Marysville Exempted Village School District.
"Welcoming two new board members, saying farewell to our current superintendent and starting our second iteration of the search for a new superintendent meant clearly our goals were focused around making smooth transitions at both the board level and leadership areas," Mabee said.
Another area the board had to tackle included the district's financial situation and the need to stabilize it.
The urgency in stabilizing the district's economic situation became clear when the board dug into the numbers for the five-year forecast submitted to the state in May.
At that time, MEVSD Treasurer Cindy Ritter projected the district would face a nearly $2 million deficit in fiscal year 2013.
New Superintendent Diane Mankins joined the team in July and quickly started working with the board and Ritter to find solutions.
The group decided a new 4-mill levy and the renewal of existing funding levels were crucial to getting things in order.
A little more than a month before the November election, the board prepared for potential failure of the levy proposal and unanimously approved Mankins' back-up plan.
The initial proposal included eliminating 35 staff positions, which would cut costs for salaries, health care and mandated retirement benefits.
Voters rejected the levy in November, leaving Mankins and the board with difficult decisions to make.
"That was a major disappointment for us all," said Mankins.
The results meant taking a look at ways to make up for the lost revenue.
"The original goal was to get to $2 million and that's what we're committed to do. The number of people wasn't ever as important as the $2 million because we know some people make more than others. That was kind of an average. We're pretty close to that with the decisions the board has made to date. We have a little more work to do but we should be there by next Thursday," said Mankins.
The board has met three times since the election to try to find solutions to the budget crisis. On Dec. 20, reductions were on the board agenda.
"We'll be having those reductions on in December by position and then in January they'll be by name (on the agenda)," said Mankins.
The roller coaster ride started for Mankins long before the failed levy. Shortly after she settled into her new office, a drunk driver drove a truck through the Board Office on Edgewood Drive. The September crash displaced Mankins and her administration to the old Middle School Building at the corner of Maple Street and Amrine-Mill Road. She hopes to be back in the board building by the first of the year.
Electrical and framing inspections took place recently and Cousino Harris Disaster Kleenup of Columbus said the outside brick work will start this week.
"To say this year has held some challenges for us would be a huge understatement. But I am so proud of how our people adapt and continue to move forward without missing a step. We are blessed to have those kinds of folks in this district," said Mabee.
Mankins has experienced success as well. The district achieved the 'Excellent with Distinction' ranking for the second year in a row on the state report card issued by the Ohio Department of Education.
"This is a true reflection of all the hard work and effort that is put in from top to bottom in this district, despite all of the changes and 'noise' happening around us," said Mabee.
Going for a three-peat is a feasible goal for Mankins.
"I think we're aligned to do the same work again. Our teachers are doing great things. Our staff in general is always willing to roll up their sleeves and do a little extra. And we have great kids here. The students seem to enjoy learning," said Mankins.
Mabee wants the district to continue to communicate with the community and tell its story.
"People need to know all of the good things that happen every day in our district, and they need to know the things we struggle with as well," said Mabee.
Overall Mankins calls 2012 "good."
Her first five months have been spent learning about the district, meeting new people, and establishing relationships within the community.
Marysville Mayor John Gore recognizes the effort put in by the district's new leader.
"I am very happy to have Diane Mankins here as our superintendent and I'm looking forward to helping her grow our school systems. I enjoyed working with her," said Gore.
"That's really been a major focus -- to try to connect the schools to the community and develop those relationships. I feel like we're off to a good start," said Mankins.
"I'm certainly not excited about the position we're in financially, but I'm pleased with our work to try to balance our budget and make the best decisions we can, moving into next school year."