CHAMPION - Nearly 200 residents gathered Wednesday in the Champion High School cafeteria for a school forum on how to handle education with less funding.
Since a levy was defeated in November, and with loss of state money, the district has closed libraries, eliminated computer classes, increased class sizes and suspend the accelerated reading program, among other cuts. There's also a proposal to eliminate the elementary guidance program and to reduce nursing staff.
At the meeting, residents filled out a short questionnaire regarding the district's situation, including whether to place an emergency operating levy on the May primary ballot.
Board President David Mahan said those responses will be reviewed by the board, with a decision on the levy to be taken at the Jan. 28 meeting.
''We want to get the thoughts and feelings from those in the community on what we should do about our situation,'' Mahan said.
Parent Tim Headrick, who has three children in the district and others who have graduated, said, ''The teachers have been working in the trenches without the needed food and supplies. ... The future of our community is on the line. We need to talk about what we are going to do to make our district the schools of the future.''
Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland
Tim Headrick, a Champion parent, speaks to about 200 residents at a school forum Wednesday at the Champion High School cafeteria on the importance of providing a quality education to the students and the need for passage of a levy to help the district reach that goal. Listening are teacher Heather Campbell, left, and district Superintendent Pamela Hood.
Headrick said he is concerned Champion could face what other school districts are facing due to depleted funds for cutting critical services.
Superintendent Pamela Hood said ensuring that each student receive a quality education with programs and services is the utmost importance, but that is at risk when the district is facing difficulty maintaining current programs.
She said the district has faced $900,000 annual cuts imposed by the state that ''no belt tightening will fix.'' Without adjustments, the district faces a project $5 million deficit in five years, she said.
''For the past 10 years, Ohio schools have been strained by the state school funding budget. Nearly $2 million over the past 10 years has been taken away by the state from Champion schools' budgets and gone for private for-profit charter schools,'' Hood said.
The district has had to consolidate and reduce programs and services while reducing expenditures of over $2 million while trying to retain what is necessary for continued student success.
Middle school teacher Heather Campbell said, ''By being forced to increase class sizes, close libraries, canceling computer classes and other programs and reducing technological resources make it all but impossible for our students to meet these rigorous academic challenges (to compete in the global world and succeed in college and work force training programs).''
Elementary teacher Jennifer Soloman said the district is facing more challenges but with fewer resources.
''Our students deserve all opportunities. We need to maintain quality schools but with the financial hardships we are finding it difficult. We want our students to be prepared to face and meet the demands of what colleges and careers are expecting,'' Soloman said.
High school teacher Christy Pompoco said there is a concern with the reduction of services due to less funding students won't have access to essential technology.
Pompoco said many families are being impacted by the current economic situation with students only access to technology devices and computers in school.