Acting Marietta superintendent named

Marietta Middle School Principal Will Hampton will serve as acting superintendent of the Marietta City school district while Superintendent Harry Fleming recovers from injuries he recently sustained.

Marietta City Board of Education President Greg Gault said during Monday’s regular board meeting at the district administrative offices that Fleming suffered multiple injuries when he fell down a flight of stairs last week while visiting a friend in Columbus. He is currently hospitalized and his recovery is expected to take “an extended period of time.”

After meeting in executive session for nearly an hour, Gault said Hampton, who has served as the middle school principal for six years and has an Ohio superintendent’s license, will take on the duties of superintendent while Fleming is out.

“I think Will will do a good job up there,” Gault said. “He’s earned a lot of respect as the principal at the middle school. … It was an obvious choice for us.”

Hampton said he regrets the circumstances that led to it but appreciates the opportunity before him.

“It’s inspiring to have someone ask you in a time of need for your help,” he said. “And it’s exciting for me to have the opportunity.”

Hampton said he learned things as a principal that would make him a better teacher should he return to the classroom, and he expects this experience to give him a new perspective on being a principal.

Hampton’s additional duties, which will not be accompanied by a change in pay, will mean more responsibility for middle school Assistant Principal Todd Caltrider. For now though, Hampton said he expects to split his time between the middle school and the district office.

In other business

Board members expressed concern about Marietta High School’s open-lunch policy.

Marietta resident Angela Feathers said during the meeting that the practice of students leaving school for lunch creates a risk for automobile accidents that is greater than the chances of a school shooting, which the board recently spent about $600,000 on a renovation to guard against. The school allows open lunch to juniors and seniors who meet certain standards of attendance, academics and attitude.

“Just because you have a high gpa and you come to school every day doesn’t make it a safe lunch,” Feathers said.

In September, four high school students were taken to Marietta Memorial Hospital after a teen driver pulled into the path of an oncoming pickup truck at the intersection of Academy and Colegate drives during the lunch period.

Gault, board Vice President Wendy Myers and board member Karen Burton agreed changes need to be made, but noted logistical issues in feeding every student on campus.

“It’s something we’re going to be considering,” Gault said.

Treasurer Matt Reed presented the district’s five-year forecast, which shows deficit spending in four of the five years outlined on the state-required report, but a negative cash balance only in fiscal year 2018.

The district is projected to spend nearly $242,000 more than it takes in this year, but in fiscal year 2015, increases in state funding of schools and the revaluation of real estate this year by the Washington County Auditor’s Office push the revenues more than $279,000 above expenditures. Not knowing what changes may be made after the current biennial state budget ends, Reed left state funding flat going forward, with deficit spending projected in fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

The district would be $132,131 in the red in the final year of the forecast if Reed’s projections are borne out and a pair of levies are renewed in 2016 and 2017.

“There are a lot of things that we can do to change that,” he said.

Without the levies, the district would be in the red by nearly $1 million at the end of fiscal year 2017 and about $4.7 million by the close of fiscal year 2018.