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Ludlow Budget Includes Pay Increase; Board Adopts Bond Plan for New Gym Roof

The Ludlow Board of Education issued revenue bonds last week to fund a replacement of the gymnasium's roof and the heating and air system at Mary Goetz Elementary School.

Joe Nance, vice president of Ross, Sinclair and Associates, came to the meeting on Thursday to explain the anticipated costs. Because of state offers and local revenue, the district is approved for $1,395,000, and the projects require $1,135,000, which leaves a future bonding potential of $260,000. The board had to recess to enter Ludlow Finance Corporation meeting, so they could vote on the bonding, then reconvene the board of education meeting, where they voted on a resolution to issue the bonds. But Nance said one of the financial offers from the state would only be available after July 1, 2016, so he proposed selling the bonds so the final number would be in after July 1.

The board voted on the tentative budget for next year, which has to be passed before the new fiscal year. The new budget comes in at $6,514,246. Financial Director Vikki Wofford said that the new budget is very conservative.

Included in the budget is a "step plus 1 percent" increase in the salary schedules. Also in the budget is a $500 stipend for elementary basketball coaches, and money for a new instructional technology coach. Superintendent Michael Borchers said because they had a retirement in the administrative offices, they decided to consolidate two positions and create a District Office Administrative Manager, and the board approved that position.

Senior Savanna Bricking, a student with the Gateway Community & Technical College's Regional Academy (GRA), came to the meeting to tell the board about the program and what she thought about it as well as how important she thought it was.

"I have 12 credits toward pre-med at Thomas More (College)," she said. "I found the classes challenging. When I started the year, I was really anxious about what I was going to do. Now I have higher expectations for myself. I also loved the laptop. I couldn't have afforded one myself."

Students who qualify for the GRA program have to maintain a grade of C or better to stay in the program and have the district pay for the classes. The students have to make sure they get to the classes, and Borchers asked Savanna about the freedom they are afforded to manage their classes. Savanna said that it felt really nice to have the freedom of managing the classes, and that she felt more grown up with the responsibility. 

Borchers thanked the board for supporting the program.

One of the high school teachers, Marc Frevola, has an AP Biology class that the students didn't want to miss, so Gateway ultimately qualified him as an instructor, since he had the credentials, and he now teaches the course at the Gateway campus which the students really like.

"It is a lot of money to put in the hands of students," said Travis Caudill, principal of Ludlow High school. "But it is nice that the students have skin in the game, in that they have to get a C or better or they have to pay for the classes."

The board voted to accept a contract with St. Elizabeth, as well as one for Invo Health Care for Physical Therapy, and one for Pediatric Therapy Specialists for Occupational Therapy.

The board listened to the first reading of the Food Service Procurement Policy, which the Federal guidelines say they have to pass or funds will be withheld.  The board also passed a Classified retirement classification and a Certified evaluation plan.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Photo: Senior Savanna Bricking gave an update on being a Gateway student.