Marion High School spring play gets reinstated

Enrollment, insurance continue to crunch budget

News editor

Twenty-six students, alumni, parents, and teachers successfully lobbied the Marion school board Monday to reinstate a spring play cut from the budget.

Senior Amanda Stuchlik said her involvement in theater had helped her with confidence, teamwork, public speaking, and time management. She said many people, some of them strangers, have told her how much they enjoy productions and how proud they are of the students involved.

Other students, including Jacob Baldwin, Nick Meyer, Braden Fahey, Lauren McLinden, Cade Harms, and Morgan Wheeler, alumnus Derek Stuchlik, and parents Myrta Billings, Susan Robson, and Davey Hett echoed her sentiments.

“It was a joy to watch how my daughter blossomed (participating in theater),” Robson said. “It makes for a stronger school and a stronger student body.”

Hett said the district has a great performing arts center and should use it as much as possible.

Superintendent Lee Leiker said the district could pay for it in this year’s budget.

Board member Jana Nordquist said that as a parent of children who are into theater, she fully supported reinstating the play, making a motion to restore it for this year. Board President Chris Sprowls said he is usually the naysayer on budget issues, but after seeing the passion of the students and supporters, he thought it would be money well spent.

Board member Jeremiah Lange reminded everyone that the district is in tough financial shape, but the vote to restore the play was unanimous. Board members cautioned students that the decision will be reviewed as part of next year’s budget.

After the decision, students congratulated Stuchlik on a job well-done. She said it felt good to change board members’ minds after repeatedly hearing there probably wouldn’t be a spring play.

On Tuesday, director Janet Killough said the play would be “Dearly Beloved,” a comedy. In recent years the spring play has tended to be a melodrama.

In related business, the board approved adding Katie Rahe as an assistant forensics coach. The team has 32 members this year.

Leiker updated the board on the likely budget situation for next year. The district will likely lose $140,000 in state aid because of declining enrollment next year.

The district also may have to pay $60,000 more to the special education cooperative to help pay for insurance now mandated for para-educators.

If health insurance premiums for staff already receiving insurance go up 16 percent again, as they did this year, that would be yet another $60,000 or more in new expenses.

Overall, Leiker estimated decreasing revenue and increasing expenses will total $250,000 to $260,000 in the coming year.

The board also discussed the possibility of issuing a laptop computer to every high school student but took no action.

The board approved requests for Jessyka Raple and Dalton Burke to attend Marion schools while living outside the district. Both live in Hillsboro. Burke had been attending Marion Elementary School while living in Marion, and his mother wanted him to be able to continue at Marion.

The board met in closed session for 1 hour 15 minutes to discuss personnel and negotiations. Gordon and elementary principal Justin Wasmuth were included.

Sprowls and board member Duane Kirkpatrick were appointed to negotiate with teachers. Helmer was appointed as the alternate.

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