A pair of new administrators and efforts to expand vocational curriculum will greet Black River Local Schools students when they return to class Tuesday, Aug. 28.
Chris Clark is beginning his fifth year as superintendent and said improving vocational options for middle school students will be a top priority.
“We’re trying to get a better grip on what a middle school student wants to do when they graduate from high school,” Clark said. “We realize many of them would like to go to college but also that some of them don’t want to go to college. There’s other options out there and ways to develop those skill sets.”
“We’ve given our middle school principal a green light to research many programs,” he said. “Hopefully by January or February we’ll be able to make an announcement for what we’re doing.”
Black River High School is slated to enroll 390 students this year — 100 freshmen, 92 sophomores, 87 juniors, and 111 seniors.
The Black River Education Center, which houses kindergarten through eighth grade students, is set to welcome 721.
A net increase of 15 students compared to last year is the first uptick in enrollment during Clark’s tenure as superintendent. “There’s been a lot of home sales in the area,” he said. “It seems like the real estate market is taking off a bit in our area. A lot of homes were sitting empty for a long time that now seem like they’re filling up with families again.”
Tracey Lambdin has taken over as high school principal from Todd Yoder, who departed for an assistant principal position in Wooster.
Lambdin is a Black River graduate and most recently served as an instructional assistant principal for the Akron Public Schools.
“Mr. Lambdin has hit the ground running,” Clark said. “He’s been very aggressive in a positive sense, meeting with students and staff members. He reached out to the entire staff to communicate his expectations and find out their expectations. Some of our staff sat in on the interviews and we had staff involvement throughout the preliminary rounds of interviews.”
Roshelle Dewey, a Title I reading specialist in Black River for the past four years, has been promoted to elementary assistant principal.
“When we looked at our numbers and how many elementary students we have, we felt we weren’t assisting our principal very well,” Clark said. “Academically, our elementary building, at one time, needed a lot of additional resources. Our board has put those resources into it the past two or three years and we felt like additional administrative support was needed as far as program planning.”
A measure to convert the district’s 25-year, $8.4 million bond issue into a 1.4-mill permanent improvement levy will be on the November ballot.
The bond issue was approved in 1994 and funded construction of the Black River Education Center. It began as an 8.75-mill measure but is now being collected at 1.6 mills.
Clark said a 1.4-mill permanent improvement levy would raise $313,000 annually and cost homeowners $50 per $100,000 of property valuation — a decrease of about $6 per $100,000 valuation compared to the 1.6-mill bond issue.
Permanent improvement money can be used for infrastructure upgrades and any materials with a shelf life of five years or more.
A 7.8-mill operating levy renewal for the schools was approved by voters last November. It is used to cover the cost of staffing and raises $1.6 million annually.
“We created a five-year plan of projects that we’d like to work on,” said Clark. “We want everyone in the community to see that if this levy is passed, this is how the money will be spent. With a PI levy, it’s not for salaries. It’s strictly for brick-and-mortar repairs. A levy for this district will help ensure needed improvements and repairs without being a tax increase.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.