KENT: The Kent City Schools Board of Education continued its march toward the appearance of a new 8.9-mill operating levy at its meeting Tuesday night, while also dealing with other issues relating to school safety and enrollment.
The board heard a presentation on the levy and tax issues from treasurer Deborah Krutz. She explained the new KSU Gateway Esplanade, which is moving toward the construction phase, will deprive the district of approximately $75,000 in tax revenues because the land for the project was purchase by the university, which does not pay property taxes.
Krutz said the loss of property taxes, along with tax abatements for new businesses in the renovated area of downtown Kent, makes the upcoming levy a necessity.
The board also discussed the issue of open enrollment, a topic brought to the forefront during the portion of the meeting reserved for citizens to address the board. During Superintendent Joseph Giancola’a presentation, he broke down the district's enrollment numbers, with the most recent count being 2,999 students district-wide.
Of that number, Giancola explained, 300 are in the district through open enrollment. For each of those students, the district receives $5,703.91 in support from each student's home district. Giancola cited Kent City Schools' diverse course offerings as a draw for students outside the district and added that those students transferring in through the program often help to fill open spots in classes.
"Our diverse programming is a way of having classes filled," Giancola said. "Open enrollment fills seats empty in various diverse classes we offer because not all courses are identical…. Open enrollment allows us to sustain our diverse programs.”
Also on the agenda was the district's annual state report card, which was headed up for the first time with a rating of "Excellent with Distinction."
For the measure of "value added," which evaluates a district by how much progress each student makes relative to his or her level of performance or aptitude from one measuring period to the next, the district ranked 55 out of 823 in the state and was the highest-ranked district in Portage County.
The rating will be the first and only "Excellent with Distinction" designation for the district, as the state will change its rating system beginning next year and will assign districts letter grades based on their progress in six different areas.
The board also discussed revisions to the district's safety policy and moved to add language to the rules specifically including buses, bus drivers and bus aides as part of a rule mandating respectful treatment of all school property and employees.