Huron Schools face $500K in cuts

Board meets but delays decisions after closed-door session
Alissa Widman Neese
Apr 17, 2013

The Huron school board is weeks away from approving at least $500,000 in cuts for the next two years.

Board members were poised to approve the cuts Tuesday night, according to their meeting agenda, but they ultimately took no action despite spending most of the meeting in private, effectively shutting out community members from the discussion.

The board spent three hours in two closed-door sessions.

The meeting kicked off with a lengthy session about modifying the length of a student’s expulsion. The board approved the modification, then entered a second session to discuss the cuts.

More than 40 people attended the meeting, but only a handful remained by the time board members finally returned from their closed session at about 11:40 p.m. to say they would take no action.

The reductions will likely be approved at the May 21 meeting, board president Scott Slocum said.

“We’ve met several times about this and each time there’s a new element we haven’t considered yet,” Slocum said. “This is very serious. When we do it, we want to make sure we’re doing it right.”

The school district is facing a deficit of about $1.3 million in the current year, with a budget of about $15 million.

The cuts are needed to keep the district stable until 2015, and the board is considering all options, treasurer Mike Weis said.  

“Administrators, classified staff, teachers, supplies, we’re looking at it all,” Weis said. “It sounds simple, but it’s complex. There are some tough decisions we need to make.”

Tuesday's meeting was the board’s first since voting 3-2 to fire former superintendent Fred Fox, whose suspension, investigation and related lawsuits have already cost the district about $140,000. Fox recently appealed his termination and he plans to file at least three new lawsuits, which could also prove costly for Huron Schools.

Two community members typically vocal on the issue voiced concerns again at Tuesday's meeting. Chris Wechter questioned the accuracy of the Fox investigation’s cost, while Sherry Catri targeted what she called board member John Caporini’s “unprofessional behavior” at last month’s meeting.

Slocum suggested Catri and Caporini meet in private to discuss the issue in a more appropriate environment.

“As with all of our employees, he has a right to defend himself,” Slocum said. “We can address this civilly one-on-one if you’re only going to direct specific criticisms at him.”

Also Tuesday, the board voted 4-1 to approve a special tax abatement for News-2-You, a Huron company. Board member Tim Sowecke was opposed to the abatement.

Comments

luvblues2

Egos seem to cost quite a bit these days.

whazup

You might want to check your notes SR. I do believe she agreed to meet with Caporini in private. Didn't he say that "she can speak to my attorney?" What are you hiding?

whazup

Looks like the SR corrected the board members name.

Darwin's choice

Doesn't sowecke own the news co.?

Wald

Now we get to the aftermath of the Fox fiasco when the cuts begin thanks to the three stooges' lack of fiscal responsibility. Hope it was worth it!

UgtaBkdnMe

Maybe they can sell the extra chainsaws, weed whackers, vacuum sweepers, power tools and such to cover the deficit. Or, better yet, sell the out-of-service buses for scrap instead of a dollar.

KURTje

Blame a Union. (oge)

donutshopguy

Thought Mr. Fox had created a three million dollar rainy day fund due to his greatness.

bullydogs1971

the problem in America is we are putting education on the back burner and we got our priorities all messed up! I have 3 kids all almost grown. I have noticed in the last few years schools closing, curriculum cut and teachers let go for budget reasons. At the same time i have seen plenty of new patrol cars and new officers being hired. This reflects our country as a whole when you look at the US budget....
2013 70 billion for education http://www.heritage.org/research...
2013 $931 billion for defense http://www.thenation.com/article...
maybe if we reversed these numbers we our youth may have a fighting chance in the future.....just sayin.

BW1's picture
BW1

apples to oranges. That 70 billion is federal spending, while the majority of education funding is at the local and state level. Defense is 100% federal - Huron doesn't have a navy of its own.

S w Rand 2016

Did we not already reduce class sizes and triple our education spending and it did nothing? Many other nations' children are leaving us in the dust on test scores, and they don't spend (per child) anywhere even remotely near what we spend per child.
I am not so sure it's the money.

Gardenman

Think we all can see where this is going....increased school taxes via a levy at the polls. That is probably where it was going with or without the Fox situation. Although, the current and looming legal costs are now getting us there sooner. Everyone on both sides has said this is going to cost the children in the school district and that is becoming clearer and clearer.

At least for my part I have no plans to bail out financially what this Board and in particular the three members drove us into. I would have supported additional tax revenue for the schools but not now after the fiasco of this past year.

As Todd Nelson said Huron was the envy of the county for what they had.....they are losing it all now.....folks around the county now talk about the Huron City School's mess.

Huron_1969

let's send Fred thank you cards

Wald

Send them instead to the three board members who voted for this mess and their leader, the "coach".

good old boy

Ditto

BW1's picture
BW1

Why not double down on stupid in the face of litigation and float a levy to cover the lawyers' fees? After all, the Metroparks got away with it!

Informed

Um, how about all the money Fox cost the district for grievances teachers filed against him for not following the contract? Sorry, but the district is not short of money because of terminating Fox. And gee, just a couple years ago he was saying how Huron is financially set for at least the next 5 years. Yeah, right.

good old boy

Maybe Coach can give us another passionate speech on morals and inspire us all to make the town great again.....hahahahahahaha

Wald

"Sorry, but the district is not short of money because of terminating Fox."

You keep telling yourself that if it helps you sleep at night.

Justme...

Its a fact Wald. The termination has cost nowhere near $500,000 because of the insurance policy. I've always heard them predict they would need to ask for new money around 2015, so this is the time they start dipping into the surplus.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Huron is facing the same budget issues as every other district in the state. There is nothing unique here. Look at the neighboring districts and you will see they are making cuts, too.

Informed

Wald, I do know that for a fact. Fox cost this district hundreds of thousands of dollars in teacher grievances because of his ego.

Retiree

Fox's decision to get a referee instead of an arbitrator was smart. He could flip flop either way on his (referee) decision . The arbitrator who made the decision to reinstate the police officer in Sandusky is permanent. Arbitrators look at the facts and then decisions are made. They are not made over a friendship or how I can move ahead in my profession.

As stated at the last board meeting, the cost of the Fox termination is around one hundred thirty thousand dollars($130,000).
1) fifty thousand dollars($50,000) went to Attorney Markley
2) forty thousand dollars ($40,000) because of Asher
3) fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) was because Fox wanted a hearing with a referee. Whatever monies that is spent now on Fox's termination is because of him, not the school board. Fox is just after free money. He knows that he was wrong or his attorney would have agreed to arbitration. This might be a little deep for some people to understand but just wait and see how it plays out.

The Huron Schools are looking at a deficit now. This just did not happen over the last year, which Fox supporters want you to believe. It takes years to get into a deficit of this amount. With the amount of grievances, reckless spending and poor decisions by Fox, purchasing an excessive amount of items and supplies for personal use, is only a few reason why Huron Schools are in this situation.

Julie R.

Considering all the Huronites that got free passes for criminally defrauding an elderly person at the end of her life --- forged power of attorneys, forged wills, fraudulent transfer of property and internal criminal changes to contracts --- I can't WAIT to see how those ethical jokes at that corrupt Erie County courthouse rule in this case.