After anger over access to meetings, the Wellington board of education has voted to reinstate its membership with the Ohio School Boards Association — for now.
Potential savings from a workers compensation program drew the board back.
The OSBA’s workers compensation pooling program saves the district more than dues cost, said Rob Delane, deputy executive director of OSBA.
“I’m pleased that Wellington has chosen to rekindle membership,” he said.
The district is projected to save $6,300 by participating in the OSBA program, Delane said in a letter to Dennis Mock, Wellington school superintendent. Annual dues cost $4,700.
“We run the risk of not being able to get our worker’s comp if we don’t make a change, which would put us in a tenuous situation,” Mock told the board Tuesday night.
The board originally voted to withdraw membership in December following board member Ayers Ratliff’s concern about not being able to attend OSBA’s meetings, which he said had been characterized like private banker meetings.
“Why should we have something we’re paying big dollars into if we can’t even use it?” Ratliffe said in December.
Ratliffe said the membership money could be better spent on things like the school resource officer program, which is at risk of shutting down due to lack of funding.
Delane said the statewide organization’s meetings are open, but there is no room for public comment. Any concerns Ratliffe had with the organization should instead be addressed directly with OSBA leadership, he said.
“Our goal is to be as valuable to schools as we can, offering them as much as we can to help them be successful in providing services to students,” Delane said. The OSBA provides training for board members, publications, legislative updates, and limited phone calls to attorneys at no cost.
The board voted unanimously to reinstate membership, but Ratliff said he wants Delane to address the board in February.
“It’s a black eye when they lose a district like Wellington,” he said. Of 712 districts, only three, including Wellington, chose not to renew membership last year, Delane said.
“It’s distressing to me personally that Mr. Ratliffe isn’t pleased with some aspects of the association,” Delane said. “We’re trying to do whatever we can to help school districts be successful.”
Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @ReporterGabe on Twitter.