AW Schools Receives State Auditor’s Award

Lori Brodie, the northwest regional liaison for Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber, presented the Ohio Auditor of State Award to Anthony Wayne Local Schools’ treasurer Kerry Johnson and her staff, including Julie Pingle, Cindy Brahier and Ray Greene. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Anthony Wayne Local Schools has earned the Ohio Auditor of State Award.

“Only about 8 percent out of the 6,000 entities we audit are even eligible for this award,” said Lori Brodie, the northwest regional liaison for Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber. “This puts the district in a very select group.”

Brodie, a Waterville resident and parent of three Anthony Wayne graduates, came to the June 27 board of education meeting to present the award. While it’s the first time she’s come in person, this is not the first time the district has earned the award.

“Most of my school treasurers never want any recognition, but I’m happy to give this to a treasurer I’ve known for a long time. It’s well-deserved,” Brodie said.

The state annually audits school districts, cities, villages, townships and counties – any entity that spends taxpayer money. The auditor recognizes those that are timely in filing and have audits with no findings, no management letter comments or any other financial issues.

“This shows that your employees strive every day to achieve accounting excellence,” Brodie said, thanking Johnson for her leadership, professionalism and integrity.

Johnson credits her staff, including assistant treasurer Ray Greene, Cindy Brahier and Julie Pingle.

During the meeting, the trustees also:

• Appointed Kevin Her-man as interim superintendent effective August 1 for a period of one year. The board plans to conduct a superintendent search but did not provide details. (See related article.)

• Agreed to reinstate the position of director of technology – which had been eliminated as part of a fiscal recovery plan. With a decision to appoint Herman as superintendent and not fill his assistant superintendent job, the funds can be used to keep a vital position, said board member Mike Stamm. Lindsay Hoip-kemier said that Herman will already be taking on two jobs, and adding the technology responsibilities would be too much. The board approved rehiring Chris Hamady to the position he’s held since 2012.

• Passed a resolution of necessity to place a 2.42-mill operational levy on the November ballot to collect $3.3 million per year for five years. The millage may be lower after the Lucas County Auditor’s revaluations are set on January 1, Johnson said, explaining that as the district’s overall valuations increase, millage decreases to collect that same amount.

• Listened to Bill Tuch-olski ask how the district would respond to Ohio House Bill 445, which would require districts to allow student dismissal during the school day for religious instruction. Tucholski, a retired teacher, said he is concerned that the language fails to protect the safety and well-being of released students because it does not require religious providers to meet the same standards public schools must meet, including background checks on all staff and volunteers and providing safe transportation. Tucholski said he is concerned that HB 445 could expose students to a religious group that fails to accept all cultures and religions or one that endorses a particular candidate for office.

• Heard Dr. Roy Collaco ask the board to weigh the consequences of allowing students to leave school during the day to go off-campus for Christian instruction by LifeWise Academy. He asked whether other faiths would be permitted to teach their views. Collaco also wondered about the impact on the district’s logistics, budget, liability, student safety and instruction time. He suggested that the board seek input from parents and other stakeholders through a districtwide survey before making a decision.

• Heard Stamm recommend that community members with concerns about those religious programs email the board at AWBoard@anthonywayneschools.org.

• Listened to employee Debbie Jacoby ask what the board members are doing to educate the community on a variety of concerns: the legality or feasibility of some changes demanded by community members; that the district’s money is not mismanaged nor employees overpaid; the need for the levy passage; and the need to bring the community back together. She said some employees are fearful of speaking to the board members because of their “unknown personal agendas,” and some are considering leaving the district because of uncertainty in their jobs. That will impact the children who benefit from dedicated and passionate employees, she said.

• Thanked the Anthony Wayne Athletic Boosters for their donation of $54,134 to cover the cost of supplemental coaching positions that were cut in the financial plan.

• Approved final appropriations for the 2023-24 school year and temporary appropriations for the 2024-25 school year. The fiscal year begins on July 1. Superintendent Dr. Jim Fritz and Johnson outlined some needs in the food service account, including freezers that need to be replaced. 

• Approved property/ fleet/liability insurance with Ohio School Plan/Hyland Insurance Company for $138,853 and cyber insurance with Crum & Forster for $8,500.

• Heard that the district will manage the American Red Cross Scholarship Fund.

• Heard that the district will manage the payment of the Science of Reading reimbursement to employees who complete training as required under Ohio House Bill 33. The state pays for the training.

• Approved with a 4-1 vote a one-year membership renewal to the Alliance for High Quality Education at a cost of $4,000. The alliance includes districts that are similar in size and demographics and has lobbyists who advocate in the statehouse for those districts’ needs. The alliance also allows for purchasing power on expenditures like buses. Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg and Sylvania are other local members. Fritz said the district is saving more than $4,000 in benefit from this alliance. Hoipkemier voted against the membership, stating concerns about the cost.

• Heard Fritz share highlights and accomplishments of the Class of 2024. More students are opting to go straight into employment. Military enlistments remain about the same as in past years. For students heading to college, Bowling Green State University is the top choice, followed by The Ohio State University.

• Listened to Fritz make recommendations on maintenance items that need to be addressed – such as aging rooves, boilers and an outdated high school auditorium sound system for which there are no longer any parts. The track is unsafe and needs to be replaced, and there is a gas leak issue in the tanks at the transportation department. 

• Heard Stamm said that he and board president Kyle Miller are meeting with Fritz and Herman to talk about student behavior issues, to make sure the community feels comfortable that the district is handling those issues in the right way. Cell phone usage and the dress code are two particular issues they plan to discuss.

• Approved an overnight trip for the high school cheer squad to attend Ohio Northern University for a cheer camp on July 15-18.

• Approved an amended agreement with ProMedica Physician Group for the school nurse and clinical services program to provide services through July 31, 2027.

• Approved Justus Gon-zales and Will Kane for graduation with the Class of 2024.

• Approved the hiring of Theresa Frost as director of transportation, replacing Tammy Tapley, who recently retired; and Kim Powers as routing secretary.

• Approved contracts with new hires, including intervention coaches Erica Black, Amanda Grzecki and Laura Hudson; special education aide Brigette Bartko-Martin; and high school math teacher Jordan Schiavone.

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