The Defiance City Board of Education was introduced to Erika Willitzer, new Defiance County Economic Development director, and discussed possible expansion to a pair of Community Reinvestment Areas (CRAs) with outgoing director Jerry Hayes on Wednesday evening.
The board also heard discussion on athletic revenue losses and approved superintendent Bob Morton to make changes to the school calendar, if necessary, between board meetings, before being approved retroactively at the next meeting of the board.
Hayes and Willitzer communicated with the board via telephone, where Hayes introduced Willitzer, before discussing the possible expansion of CRA agreements #3 and #4, which would impact the 1918 building campus following a housing study performed by Maumee Valley Planning Organization (MVPO).
“The city of Defiance is investigating the possibility of extending an incentive to the former junior high (1918) building/campus area,” said Hayes. “The city is thinking when a developer is identified, they may be interested in real property exemption for future improvements on the buildings.
“They (the city) commissioned Maumee Valley Planning Organization to do the required housing survey of the area,” continued Hayes. “I was under the impression the city would create CRA #5, which would be confined to the junior high campus area, but after getting the study back, it asked for an expansion of CRAs #3 and #4.”
Hayes told the board to look over the housing survey and consider it, with no action needed Wednesday night.
Hayes also revisited a discussion with the board in September in which local businessman Brad Schlachter applied for a tax exemption of 100% for 15 years on CRA #3, located on Agnes Street in Defiance, where he plans to invest more than $350,000 for three new storage units, one each year beginning as soon as possible.
At that time, the board countered with a 90% exemption for 10 years. Hayes took that offer to Schlachter, but was asked if the board would reconsider his first proposal. On Wednesday, the board reaffirmed its stance on 90% exemption for 10 years, in which Hayes responded he would take that offer back to Schlachter.
In his report, Morton asked the board to give him the authority to change the school calendar in the near future, if needed, based on what may happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The superintendent shared that all calendar changes need to be approved by the board, but he asked for the board’s approval to allow him to make changes, if necessary, between meetings, before bringing those changes to the board to be approved retroactively.
The board then approved a resolution by a vote of 5-0.
Morton also presented the board information about lost athletic revenue from fall sports due to COVID-19, and the probable impact the pandemic will have on revenues for the rest of the school year.
Morton, who serves on the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA) committee, shared the OHSAA and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted requested the athletic revenue information from members of the committee.
It was estimated the district lost $42,200 in football revenue, $6,400 from concessions, but saw a slight increase of nearly $600 in revenue for boys and girls soccer, and volleyball. Junior high sports lost $5,082.
Over the course of 2020-21, the district could see a total loss of approximately $173,000 in athletic revenue.
“I asked (CFO/treasurer) Cheryl (Swisher) and Mr. (Jerry) Buti (athletic director) to put this information together and these are the figures following fall sports, as well as the projections for the rest of 2020-21,” said Morton. “It’s important for you to see the figures, and the projection of a loss of 73% of revenues.
“This is not unique to Defiance, but again, this revenue is what pays for uniforms, our officials, upkeep to facilities and so on,” added Morton. “Again, I thought you should be aware of this as we move forward.”
In other business, the board:
• set the January 2021 organizational meeting for Jan. 13 at 5 p.m. and elected Wes Moats to serve as president pro-tem, for the Jan. 13 meeting.
• approved an audit and exit conference waiver with the state auditor’s IPA for fiscal year 2020. There were no violations and no management letter outside the non-compliance 2020-001 for not reporting GAAP. The district will receive 4 STARS for the governor’s Ohio Sunshine Laws, the highest achievement rating.
• okayed a depository agreement with Premier Bank from Jan. 27, 2021-Jan. 26, 2026.
• voted for medical leave of absences for the following individuals: Steve Wahl until approximately Feb. 26, 2021; and Deena Karnes, for approximately two months, beginning Dec. 2.
• approved the following employments: Audrey Eis, an additional 125 hours as a Title I teacher for 2020-21 at St. John Lutheran School; Patrick Bloomfield, substitute teacher as needed for 2020-21; and Keri Shannon, substitute cafeteria as needed for 2020-21.
• accepted the following resignations: Breanna Slattman, high school cashier, 3.5 hours per day, effective Dec. 11; and Steve Wahl as winter boys track coach for 2020-21.
• okayed the updated list of substitute teachers as approved by the NwOESC.
• accepted the following donations: $1,000 from the Johns Manville STARS committee to the elementary school for supplies; and $14,500 from the United Way of Defiance County to the elementary school.