By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor
The City of Willard will be putting up school warning signs on South Main Street, according to Willard City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ritz.
“Since this building was built,” he told members of the board of education at their February meeting, “the calls that I receive the most complaints about are the signage out on Main Street. Meaning the school zone, the speeding zone down through there.”
The new building, he noted, is considered to be on Ohio 103.
“It is a state highway,” Ritz pointed out. “The State of Ohio just put out grants to put out flashing school zone signs.”
Ritz said he called Columbus to a division of the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“They said, ‘Are you in the city limits?’” he recalled of the conversation. “I said, well yes, we’re a city school. ‘You don’t qualify for this grant. We won’t pay for your school zone.’”
Ritz said if the school building was not in the city limits, he was told the state would pay for the signage.
“How much are these signs? They are anywhere from $17,000 to $20,000,” he told board of education members. “So the State of Ohio said, ‘We will not do it.’
“The city, then, is ultimately responsible,” Ritz pointed out. “The school is not, on the road. We do not have control of anything on the road. That is not our property.”
When Jim Ludban became the city manager in Willard last year, Ritz said Ludban told him it was a goal of his that the city put these school zone signs in front of the building at One Flashes Ave.
“They are all going to be computer operated by the school itself,” Ritz pointed out. “It will automatically come on by our computer system, and it will turn off.”
The city is going to pay the approximate $17,000, Ritz said. “They are 100-percent responsible for it. The State of Ohio will not reimburse the City of Willard for that.”
Ritz said the city manager has asked if the board of education would be willing to help pay the cost for the signage.
“We have no obligation,” Ritz noted. “But I do think it would be the right thing to do.”
Any help with the cost would not need a motion from the board of education, he pointed out. No one voiced opposition to the idea.
“It benefits us,” Ritz said. “Regardless of whether we do or not, the city is going to put these speed zone signs up.”
Rod Cok, president of the Willard City Schools Board of Education, said he felt it was a good way to work with the city.
Chris Rothhaar, a member of the board of education asked Ritz if the cost was $17,000 per sign.
“It’s $17,000 total,” Ritz pointed out. “That’s an approximate number for this.”
Ritz said he will now talk with the City of Willard about helping with the cost of the signage.
Cynthia Shoup, the district’s treasurer, said projections for next year and the year after from the State of Ohio for the budgets is going to add some dollars to the local district’s coffers.
“It looks like in Huron County, we’re the only ones that will be getting an increase in the first year,” noted Shoup. “In 2018, it will be $112,000 more than what we are getting in state aid this year. The second year, we should get about $75,000.
“We are very fortunate that we are even toward the positive,” she pointed out. “There are very few schools that were getting an increase.”
Ritz said it is based on the special needs population, the poverty base and on students learning English as a language.
In other business, board members approved the following:
- Resignations or retirements including Linda Newman as majorette and flag director;
- Employment of basketball tournament workers;
- Five extended days for Michelle Aplin, guidance counselor, for this school year:
- Nancy Eldridge as a volunteer at Willard Elementary School;
- Candidates for graduation on May 28;
- Bid for lawn services and fertilizer to Strategic Turf Systems;
- A fundraiser with the sale of band apparel for the band program;
- Fundraiser dinner for the sophomore class (Class of 2020) trip to Washington, D.C. on Friday, Feb. 24 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Willard High School auditeria;
- Accepted a $4,000 grant from the Fisher-Titus Medical Center Education Grant Program;
- Approved a transfer of $182.19 from the inactive Key Club to the student council;
- Waived the facility rental fee for the Huron County Community Library on June 6 for a zoo program.
- Accepted a $48.44 donation from Ohiopyle Prints to the Willard City Schools, and
- Accepted a $1,000 donation from Roger Donnamiller to the Willard City Schools for a student scholarship.
The Willard City Schools Board of Education went into executive session to prepare for and review negotiations or bargaining sessions with employees concerning their compensation or other terms and conditions of their employment. No action followed.