The choirs and band have been busy preparing for holiday concerts and athletic teams are preparing for their competition seasons. Your support at these events is appreciated by the students, directors, coaches, and advisors. Clip and save the list of events in this newsletter for future reference.
On behalf of the students, staff, administration, and Board of Education, a thank you to the voters of the district for your support of the 5-year Income tax levy renewal. The continuation of the Income tax levy will allow the district to advance the effort to provide a high-quality education for our students. Looking down the road, our Permanent Improvement Levy is up for renewal during the 2020 school year. This levy generates $150,000 annually and is specifically utilized to maintain buildings, purchase new equipment, repair or upgrade existing equipment, and purchase school buses.
In other levy news, a 4.95 mil Bond Levy was originally passed in 2000 to build the new school. This levy was to expire in 2023. In May, 2012, the school district treasurer refinanced the Bonds due to the availability of an all-time low interest rate, thus reducing the millage on the Bond Levy to 2.8 mills and reducing the total payments and final payment to December, 2022 (saving taxpayers one less year to pay on the Bond Levy). Recently, Paulding County Auditor Claudia Fickel and Antwerp School Treasurer, Kristine Stuart have announced that the payments and remaining collections will now be at 1.6 mills beginning with the 2020 collection year and the Bond will be paid off in December, 2022.
The previously mentioned levies, coupled with state aid, provide the funding our district utilizes to run and maintain the school. This past year, our school district began receiving PILOT payments (payments in lieu of taxes) from our county auditor based on the generation of electricity from the the 18 wind turbines located in our district. The district received $194,000 and anticipates this amount will continue to be received by the district unless state regulations dictate otherwise. These funds have been earmarked to go toward the development of an Innovation and Aquaponics Center. The center will provide a dynamic, state of the art facility for our students to experiment, problem solve, and enhance their learning capacities.
Our current enrollment for grades PK – 12 is 765 students. Of the 765 students, 87 are Open Enrolled from neighboring school districts and 12 are in Foster Care. Nearly 32% of our students receive free or reduce priced lunches as part of the National Lunch Program. During the month of October, our cafeteria staff served 695 breakfasts and 5,353 lunches. On the academic programs front, we have 51 licensed teachers that provide instruction to our students and 15 Aides that provide support for our special needs’ students. Special Education services are provided to 19% of our student population. On the transportation program front, we currently have seven bus routes that typically transport 282 students to and from school each day covering nearly 446 miles each day.
Our partnership with Discovery Education to provide STEM professional development for many of our staff will continue throughout the remainder of the school year. Our Discovery Education partners periodically collaborate with staff toward enhancing STEM lesson presentations and will provide a full day In Service scheduled for January 17th. School will not be in session for students this day.
In an effort to increase the safety and security of our students and staff, plans are in the works to fence in the western side of our playground area. Currently, the playground area is enclosed on three sides but open to the west. An artificial turf playground surface area will be added to the western side of the playground, then enclosed with fence and gate entry.
Winter weather and safety of the students is always a concern during the next several months. Although decisions on whether to delay or cancel school are always made with the safety of students in mind, changes in the weather and road conditions can happen quickly. Please make sure your contact information in Instant Alert is up to date so you receive notice of delays, cancellations, or early dismissals.
Friday, December 20th will be the final day of classes before the holiday break. There will be no school December 23rd – January 3rd. Classes resume Monday, January 6th. I hope everyone has an opportunity to spend time with family and friends during this holiday season.
I am very thankful for the support from the community, students, staff, administration, and school board. I am surrounded by people who have a vested interest in making Antwerp Local Schools a great place for each child to reach his/her potential.
Yours in education,
Dr. Martin Miller