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Riverside BOE: With state cuts looming, board discusses supt. transition plan

School districts across the state are preparing for predicted state cuts to their budget beginning next school year, and Riverside Board of Education members discussed a contingency plan at their Tuesday evening meeting that deals with possible changes to the current superintendent’s contract. 


Superintendent Jim Zerkle noted that with predicted state funding reductions of between 10 to 30 percent, administrative cuts and other reductions likely will be necessary for the district.

“Any fluctuation in state aid has a huge impact on schools like ours that are heavily state-funded.

“This community is contributing their part by paying their taxes. We don’t want to ask any more of our community, so we will need to make cuts.”

As a result, the superintendent and the board have developed a transition plan for the superintendent’s contract. The plan is still in the discussion stages, and the board can revise the plan as needed in the upcoming weeks and months.

Mr. Zerkle is currently in the first year of a two-year contract that expires July 31, 2012. He has volunteered to reduce his contract from 260 days to 160 days beginning Aug. 1, creating a savings of about $33,172.

Qualified internal staff will be interviewed beginning next month to determine a candidate who would replace Mr. Zerkle beginning in January 2012. Then, Mr. Zerkle would finish out his contract in an assistant superintendent position.

“That’s my sacrifice. I’m in a position where I can do that right now. I’m hoping that we can avoid cutting other staff members as much as possible,” Superintendent Zerkle said.

“We’re hoping to jump out here in front of these cuts, and to be proactive.”

The superintendent related that this transition plan does not serve as his resignation or retirement. He said he will remain in the district through the term of his contract in whatever capacity the board chooses for him.

“My goal is not to leave a hole. I want to make it as smooth a transition as possible if we need to cut an administrator. But I will stay in my position if that’s what the board wants.”

In other matters, President DeeDee Harshbarger praised the way that school staff and administrators have dealt with recent school closings and delays related to winter weather.

“I know it’s been hectic the past few weeks, but we’re doing a good job, and our kids are safe.”

Riverside has used eight calamity days, and made up one of its days this week on Presidents Day. The other four days will be made up during spring break, administrators noted.

In other action, the board:

• extended supplemental contracts to Andy Phelps, varsity softball; Jill Kelsey, volunteer assistant varsity softball; Katie Manahan, junior varsity softball; Tim Shook, varsity girls track; Logan Whitaker, junior high boys track;

• approved Thursday/Saturday school monitor Jeanne Selhorst at the rate of $15 per hour;

• approved the high school volleyball team to conduct an intramural boys volleyball tournament with a team entrance fee of $10 per player, possibly sell T-shirts at $5 per shirt and/or charge admission of $3 per person;

• approved the Western Ohio Computer Organization Service Provider Contract for Internet services; and

• approved an extended service contract with Waibel Energy Systems in the amount of $12,980, same price as last year, to be paid out of the Classroom Facility Maintenance Building Fund.

The next meeting is 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, in the school library.

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