BETHEL TWP. — On Monday night, the Bethel Local Schools Board of Education voted to place two renewal levies on the May ballot.
The board declared the necessity of placing two five-year renewal levies, which do not generate any new taxes, on the ballot May 2. The first, an operating levy, is set at 7 mills.
“That’s somewhere around a million dollars,” treasurer Randy Bryant said of the operating levy. “I want to stress how important it is that we are able to renew that.”
The second levy, a 2 mill levy, will generate around $200,000 per year for the purpose of permanent improvements, Bryant said.
The board also discussed changes to the high school graduation requirements with Principal Craig Vasil before voting to waive the requirement for economics and computer technology courses.
Business and technology classes will still be available to students, administrators said.
Information technology is a class that teaches students how to use the Microsoft suite of programs, including Word and Excel. This class has had very low numbers in those classes for the last few years, Vasil said.
Students are introduced to technology earlier than in the past, he explained. Students are using computers in the classroom by the time they reach third grade, he pointed out. Third graders took their standardized tests online this year.
“I’m not saying that these skills aren’t vital,” Vasil said. “Those things are now going to be instructed and honed in on much more in those levels.”
Superintendent Ginny Potter added that the district would like to begin offering computer coding instruction as early as elementary school.
“Technology instruction isn’t just word processing anymore, there’s so much there,” she said.
As for economics, Vasil said that class is essentially taught at the elementary and middle school levels.
“Economics is key to the way we live life,” Vasil said. “A student needs, for example, economics but also wants to take AP Biology. … Which one do you really want them to dig themselves into?”
Graduation requirements are something schools have to be careful with, Vasil said.
The changes will affect students graduating in 2017 and 2018. These courses will be replaced with comparable course credits.
Owner’s representative Joe Harkleroad, who acts as the district’s representative to the builders, provided the board with an update on construction progress.
According to Harkleroad, painting and flooring work continues in the new addition and work in the new kitchen is progressing. Plumbing fixtures have been ordered and are on the way, he added.
Harkleroad also told the board that an environmental consultant has been hired to take a look at the areas in the old building that will be remodeled. Tests for asbestos and other environmental factors will be performed when students are out of school on Jan. 16.
Environmental analysis in a building of that age is “pretty routine,” he said, and will cost about $4,000.
The board also approved the replacement of the back-up boiler at a cost of $112,849. The work will be completed by Reliable Electrical Mechanical Services.
In other business, the board appointed Scott Hawthorn and Brian Moore as the board president and vice president, respectively.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.