Talawanda School District Board of Education discussed state legislation, arts and athletics, student accomplishments and more at its second-to-last meeting of the year on Nov. 16 at Talawanda High School’s Performing Arts Center. Treasurer Shaunna Tafelski and Superintendent Ed Theroux also presented information on finances and high school graduation.
The meeting began with representative Kathleen Knight-Abowitz discussing H.B. 214, which recently passed in the House of Representatives. The legislation would prohibit school districts from requiring students, faculty and staff from supporting political ideologies and movements and protect free speech in schools.
After highlighting student involvement in the production of “The Tempest,” the student-made Veterans Day mural in the high school’s cafeteria, athletic accomplishments and induction into the National Honor Society, the meeting opened for public participation.
One resident raised concerns about the ongoing bussing crisis in the district. Currently, K-8 families who live in a two-mile radius of their respective school do not have access to bussing services, and bussing for high school students has been eliminated entirely.
“You say you care about our kids, but I think by [eliminating bussing] you are penalizing our kids,” the resident said. “I’ve talked to people where they've had to quit their day jobs and go to second-shift jobs, just in order to take their kids to school.”
Tafelski gave a brief presentation on the five-year plan for the district. The presentation evaluated deficit spending through FY28, operating revenue, a comparison of local versus state revenue, operating expenditures broken down by object and potential challenges and current cash trends. The board unanimously approved this forecast after its presentation.
“It is not until fiscal year 28 that we start to see our expenses be higher than our revenue, pushing the cash on hand in the wrong direction,” Tafelski said.
Tafelski also said that the district anticipates to bring in more than $41 million in revenue during FY24. By FY28, the school district hopes to increase that number, bringing in more than $44 million.. In terms of operational spending, Tafelski said that the district is predicted to spend more than $39 million in FY24. That number is also expected to increase, and the school district expects to spend more than $45 million in FY28.
“This is probably the most optimistic five-year forecast I’ve seen in the four years that I’ve been on the board,” Rebecca Howard, school board member, said. “And some of that is the increase in revenue, but a lot of it is the work we’ve been doing for four years to bring down expenses. That doesn’t mean we’re done.”
Theroux also gave a report which included motions to pass updates for personnel, policies and the approval of a fifth-grade overnight field trip, which passed unanimously.
The meeting closed with details on the graduation ceremony for the high school. While the ceremony normally takes place at Millett Hall, Miami University is beginning construction for a geothermal plant on North Quad, which requires the Millett parking lot to be dug up. While Miami has lowered its space rental from over $7,000 to $2,800, parking for senior families who are attending will be disrupted. The board has not yet decided on where to hold graduation because of the impact from the geothermal project.
The next school board meeting will be held on Thursday, Dec. 14, at Talawanda High School’s Performing Arts Center. A live stream of the meeting can be found here.