Two men elected to the Miami Trace Board of Education seven years ago were chosen Tuesday evening as the president and vice president of the board for 2017.
Rob Dawson was elected president and Mike Henry was elected vice president by the board during its organizational meeting. The 2016 board president, David Miller, passed the gavel to Dawson following the vote.
“I would like to publicly thank David for a great year as president,” said board member Charlie Andrews. “You worked very hard for our school district and had the good interest of Miami Trace at heart. Dave did an excellent job.”
Henry also praised Miller for his service in 2016. “We were all very much informed as to what was going on thanks to Dave and it made it a lot easier to be a board member with that kind of leadership,” he said.
Miller said, “I want to thank everybody for the support I had last year. It was a good year….stressful at times but a good year.”
Following Tuesday’s meeting, newly-elected board president Dawson reflected on what the board has accomplished and also pointed to the future.
“We’ve done a lot of good things, obviously with the new high school coming and the taxpayers allowing us to move forward with that,” Dawson said. “There are a lot of decisions still to be made this upcoming year in regards to the new school and we’ll be trying to keep the bids low and save as much money as we can. We feel we’ve been responsible with the taxpayers’ money and we’re looking forward to continuing to do that.”
A 3.9-mill, 37-year bond issue was passed by the taxpayers at the May 2015 special election, setting in motion plans to replace the current high school with a new state-of-the-art facility. The new structure will be located on a nearly 60-acre piece of farmland to the east of the football stadium.
The new high school is on track to be approximately 160,000 square feet. In comparison, the Miami Trace Elementary School is 141,000 square feet, the middle school is 91,000 square feet, and the current high school (which opened in 1962) is approximately 127,000 square feet.
It is anticipated that the new building will open in January 2019.
Dawson also talked about the topic of state report cards and the quality of education Miami Trace provides.
“I know state report cards are a hot topic and those are always kind of up in the air because there are changes to them every year,” he said. “But our staff adapts well and we continue to go forward and make improvements each year. We would all obviously love to see As on the state report card, but we just want to make sure that our students are prepared. I have two kids in this district and I am not concerned about the quality of their education. As long as I as a parent am not concerned about and am confident in my child’s education, I think we’re moving in the right direction. We plan on continuing on the tradition this county has of great education.”
Newly-elected vice president Henry also spoke about what lies ahead in 2017.
“Primarily I want to continue supporting our staff to make sure we keep moving the district forward,” Henry said. “We’re trying to continue to excel and trying to make it easier for our employees to excel at their jobs. Naturally, I’m looking forward to the new building. There is going to be a lot of work being done this year on the construction of the building. A lot of decisions need to be made but it’s a really exciting time for us. I’m looking at it very optimistically because the support of the people in the district and the community.”
As an example of saving money for the taxpayers, the board approved legislation Tuesday that begins to place a renewal levy on the ballot this spring at a reduced millage. This emergency levy that went into place in 1988 is being reduced from 2.4 mills to 1.9 – a reduction of $500,000.
“This is the emergency levy that had been on for awhile for operations,” said Dawson. “But this is a renewal with a half-million dollar reduction. The board deemed it necessary that we are going to need to continue receiving money, but because the taxpayers have been generous and because Debbie and the staff here have been great with the money, we’re able to reduce that tax burden. It’s still a five-year renewal, but with a half-million dollar reduction.”
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board decided to hold its regular meetings this year on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the board office.
Superintendent David Lewis thanked Miller for his service as president and welcomed Dawson and Henry to their leadership positions.
“This past year was a fun year and we had a lot of successes,” said Lewis. “I would like to thank all of our board members because these guys have thankless jobs and we appreciate the job you do as board members. I think we’re fortunate to have the solid board that we have here at Miami Trace.”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica.