Charge to use stadium discussed

Amidst yearly housekeeping that included approving appointments, school fees and the upcoming academic calendar, the Marietta Board of Education discussed the district’s budgetary negotiations with Marietta College for the use of Don Drumm Stadium at its monthly meeting Monday night.

The Marietta City school district recently wrote a check to Marietta College for $37,500 for the district’s use of Don Drumm Stadium and could be asked to shell out up to $12,500 more, district Treasurer Matt Reed pointed out as he went over his monthly report.

“Based on an old contract that none of this board was a part of, we’re going to owe them up to $50,000,” said Reed.

The old contract, explained Superintendent Harry Fleming, was drawn up when the school district deeded the stadium to the college more than 10 years ago. At that time, the college promised the school district 10 years of free use. That 10 years concluded prior to the start of the school year, meaning the college can charge the district for up to $50,000 of maintenance and utilities cost, said Fleming.

Ideally, those costs would come in under the $50,000 cap, said Reed. However, Marietta College is predicting them much higher, he said.

The question of what constitutes those utility and maintenance costs has been and continues to be the subject of some debate, said Reed.

“That’s something we’ll continue to talk about and try to negotiate,” said Reed.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board heard from two mothers upset over the school’s head lice policy.

For the past two school years the district has been operating under a head lice policy that does not require children to stay home from school if they have nits but no live lice, said Fleming. Previously, a no-nit policy required students also be sent home if nits were present.

Mothers Sharon Bricker and Kayleigh Oates argued that the policy in place causes lice outbreaks to happen more frequently and last longer.

“I’m here to ask that the policy on lice be changed to a more common sense policy,” said Bricker, who first attended a meeting in December with the same request.

The problem is more than a nuisance for families who spend lots of money and time trying to rid their children of the bugs only to be reinfected, she said.

The current policy requires a child’s parents be notified as soon as school staff notice nits or lice on that child and stipulates the child should be checked upon returning.

But that policy was not followed, said Oates, adding that her child was not checked upon returning to Putnam Elementary School. Oates accused the board of favoring the policy because it bolsters attendance and therein funding.

“This is about budgeting and attendance. You guys can’t get your money through your grades because it’s an F, so you have to get it through attendance,” she said.

Board member Bill Hutchinson agreed that attendance is a factor, but for academic reasons, not financial ones.

“We are trying to keep kids in school,” he said.

After a nearly hour-long executive session, the board approved several resolutions. Among them was the academic calendar for the upcoming school year. The school year will start Aug. 20 for students and is scheduled to end May 21.

Though the district is no longer required to stipulate its contingency days due to a state change in measuring education hours versus days, Fleming ask that the board decide whether they would tack on any required makeup days during spring break or at the end of the year.

“We should give the public some sense of what to expect,” he said.

After some discussion, the board decided any additional days would be tacked on at the end of the year.