POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – A committee of “concerned citizens” met Tuesday night after sending a letter to Poland Schools Superintendent David Janofa about issues they found with facilities and curriculum.
Two hundred people came to Poland Seminary High School’s auditorium and listened to the group’s questions.
Poland resident Stephanie Hann represented the “Concerned Citizens of the Poland Schools.” With the superintendent, two school board members and about 200 people looking on, she asked the questions.
One of the group’s biggest concerns is decreasing enrollment.
Janofa said last year, 52 Poland students enrolled outside the district. This year, it’s 51.
The group says Poland Schools is ranked at 116 out of 276 schools of comparable size in Ohio in regard to the percentage of funds spent on instruction. The letter they sent requests an independent audit of the district’s financial information, as well as a disclosure of budget, salaries and a cost-analysis.
They also say state statistics show that fifth grade math scores are below average. The letter reads:
We understand that some families are choosing to move to other school systems in the area because of the declining academics in Poland. Whether the decline is perceived or real, the migration from our district is still occurring. As a result, property values may begin to decline in our community. We value our community too much to allow this to occur.
School board member Beau Weaver said the group is insinuating that Poland is losing students to other districts.
“Why don’t we open up Poland Schools? You guys want to open enrollment? I didn’t think so. Neither does anybody on the school board.”
The group also brought up a master plan for maintenance or replacement of buildings as it pertained to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.
In November, Poland voters soundly rejected a bond issue to pay for such a plan.
“We’ve discussed it ad nauseam over the last two years,” said Dr. Larry Dinopoulos, another board member.
The concerned citizens wanted to know if an industry expert in school construction could be brought in to complete an independent study, but Janofa said industry experts came in initially to create the plan.
Eventually, the topic came around to Janofa’s new contract with a $10,000 raise, and the lack of a contract for teachers.
“Did the board think that that was the right message to be sent when you’re asking the community to pass a nearly $30 million bond levy?” Hann asked.
Weaver responded by saying Janofa is “doing a fantastic job” and the board is proud of his work.
“We find him extremely valuable and we think the contract was fair and equitable.”
Janofa was asked about the newly created position of operations manager. He said it’s part-time and pays $30,000 a year. Janofa said the position is needed to help with the maintenance of the buildings, which is costing the district $30,000 a month.
The district opened an online survey for community members to offer their input on the schools.