MARTINS FERRY — The school year is winding down and the Martins Ferry City School District is looking at educational needs for the 2023-24 school year, and some additional programs and costs are expected.

Treasurer Dana Garrison addressed the Board of Education on Tuesday and reported that the expected 5% increase in health insurance would likely be higher.

“We have some initial data here and we are looking at very good potential for a big increase. I usually estimate 5% per year, but based on some of the data we’ve received from (the Portage Area School Consortium), it looks like we’re in the higher range, so it could be a 7% increase to a 14.8% increase.” Garrison Dr.

He added 7% would be an additional $230,000 and 14.8% would be $487,000. Garrison said that 7% means $65,000 will be added over the expected 5%.

He said he hopes to learn more after meeting with the consortium tomorrow.

“We should get rates for next year soon. This is something to keep in mind as we consider upcoming expenses for next year and beyond. It’s going to grow a little bit more than the last few years,” Garrison Dr.

Board member James Agnew asked what was driving the increase. Garrison said the district’s demand has increased.

Agnew asked if that included sickness and accidents. Prescriptions also drive up costs, Garrison said.

Garrison said the district uses Schwendeman Agency insurance brokers.

“They have different design plans,” she said.

Among other things, Superintendent Jim Fogle said the elementary school principal is requesting the creation of a new teaching position for keyboarding, basic computer skills and science, technology, engineering and math. Additional intervention specialists may be needed to work with kindergarten and first grade students.

The high school is requesting a second guidance counselor to oversee new graduation requirements such as industry-recognized certifications, pre-apprenticeship programs, and testing requirements to obtain those certifications. Board members noted that there had been two guidance counselors in previous years.

Fogle also reported seeking estimates for turfing the district’s baseball and softball fields. He is also looking into the possible survey of the uphill and downhill roads of the campus.

The board also heard from Lisa Klievich, After Hours Academy’s site coordinator for after-school activities. He said the participation of secondary school students has strengthened.

“We started the year with 40, now we still have 20, which is good because sports and everything starts now, spring sports.” she said. “Their scores in reading and math went up, which is the goal.

“Math is a bit difficult. They don’t make as big a jump in math as they do in reading, but they do increase their scores,” she said.

Klivik said he uses state testing programs to measure how they are doing at the beginning of the year compared to now, and most have improved.

“It tests them. It tests their level, and if they do really well, makes the content a little harder.” she said.

Recent events include a field trip to the Belmont County 911 Call Center to see how emergency responses are coordinated.

A “Summer Fun Camp” Also will be provided for students who complete the program. Events include TopGolf, Urban Air Trampoline Park, Bowling and Allen Pool at St. Clairsville/Richland Township Memorial Park.

“We have a really nice educational but fun summer school camp that we’re going to have the first two weeks of June,” she said. “We have a lot of plans.”

Next year is the final year of the five-year program, which is made possible with grant funds from the 21st Century federal grant, he said.

“I’m hoping we do really well and our numbers look really good, so that if they rewrite the grant we’ll get it again,” she said.

The board goes into a very brief closed-door executive session on employment issues, then another closed-door session for about an hour and a half and confers with an attorney on disputes with the public body that are pending or impending court action.

The last day of school will be May 26. Graduation will be on May 28.

A work session will be held on Thursday, May 11 at 4 p.m., immediately prior to the regular board meeting to discuss special education, buildings and grounds, and curriculum.

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