If you’ve come here for the rest of the story, you’re in the right place! This will be part one and we will continue to add information in the coming days. The story is long and winding, but we will get there together! If you received our most recent mailer and have come here for the facts, here we go.
First of all, we highly recommend that you don’t just take it from us – we encourage you to WATCH BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETINGS! Listen to what each Board member has stood for and said regarding education, finances, and a host of other subjects. Hear it directly from their mouths!
- Go to marlingtonlocal.org
- choose the District tab,
- then the Board of Education tab,
- choose the You Tube button,
- and then Videos.
All the meetings for the past year can be viewed.
From our flyer regarding Mrs. Gabric’s failed leadership:
According to US News and World Report, Marlington ranks 15 out of 17 in Stark County and dead last in college preparation. Courses which were planned to be offered had to be cut because the Board President and her majority chose to focus on re-opening a building rather than spend money for personnel to teach a new American Sign Language class at the high school and middle school, a very popular course in schools today.
When course offerings are not supported and/or expanded, especially at the high school level, students are more willing to open enroll in other districts to find instruction in the areas of study they seek. They also are less likely to stay engaged and work at their optimum capacity if they aren’t excited about what they’re learning.
It is interesting that Mrs. Gabric has repeatedly encouraged Marlington Superintendents to enhance Marlington’s programming without providing the funds needed. In the April 1, 2021 meeting, she told Superintendent Shreffler that he should “look at programming and …make our district as attractive as possible so that we can keep our students here and attract other students in as well.” (comments found at around the 58-minute mark of the meeting)
How can a Superintendent successfully do so when the funds are not made available? This is a failure, at the most important level, of a Board member.
#2 Financial Responsibility
This is a big failure and, again, we highly recommend that you go to marlingtonlocal.org and watch the board meetings so you can hear exactly what is being detailed here.
Regarding Marlington’s deficit spending, Mrs. Gabric has done nothing but continue to blame past boards for the current financial situation at Marlington, neglecting to take responsibility for having moved forward in the middle of a worldwide pandemic for a project of over $6 million, refusing to pause for even one minute to evaluate the finances. And let’s not forget that in her 16th year on the board, she is the longest-sitting member still currently on the board; therefore, she has been a part of that deficit spending for which she is pointing the finger.
A perplexing and disturbing development in the third month of Mrs. Gabric’s position as Board President (March 2020) was the push to employ an out-of-county attorney to take over the Board’s legal services. In about 18-months’ time, Marlington accrued a $100,000 bill from that attorney.
Had we continued to use the Educational Services Center (ESC) attorney which was used for years, we would have (conservatively) paid at the most about $10,000 for those same services. Also, the ESC attorney provides updates for Superintendents that our Superintendent did not receive since the Board majority led by Mrs. Gabric severed ties with her. What advice or educational updates did Marlington miss out on because Mrs. Gabric made this move?
In January or February of 2021, Marlington received a precautionary letter from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) over concern of our five-year forecast. Even after having instructed Treasurer Katie Brugger to change the numbers on the May 2020 forecast, the precautionary letter was received. This is not a game of Monopoly and it is highly disturbing that the board majority led by Mrs. Gabric thought that moving some numbers around would be a good solution to the financial distress that Mrs. Brugger tried to warn the district about.
In March of 2021, Mrs. Gabric and her board majority failed to ask the community if they were in agreement with taking out a $4.7 million loan to make repairs to the elementary schools. There has not been enough Nexus monies received as yet to pay for those repairs. So, contrary to promises made by Josh Hagan and Danielle Stevens who campaigned to join Mrs. Gabric to form a board majority (2 + 1 = 3 slogan), they did NOT wait until the Nexus money was received before they entered into what they previously termed a “risky lease purchase agreement” and handed the deeds of the 70-year-old buildings over to the bank.
It is not true that the Nexus monies have already paid for the repairs. In the April 1, 2021 Marlington Board of Education meeting, at approximately the 40-minute mark, Mrs. Gabric asked Treasurer Dr. Patty Main about the balance of the Nexus fund. Dr. Main did not have the number on hand, and then Mrs. Gabric went on to ask “But that is what will be used to make our first payment on the elementary repairs?” First payment? If the repairs are already paid for, why is there discussion of a “first” payment, rather than THE payment?
And finally, this year alone, a tax levy has been discussed at the April 1, April 15, May 6, August 19 and September 16, board meetings. For Mrs. Gabric to now suggest that she is uncertain if a levy is needed is highly irresponsible – no matter WHO is elected November 2!!
We HIGHLY encourage you to watch the video of the April 1, 2021 Marlington Board of Education meeting – from the 15-minute mark to 58:40. There is in-depth, obviously lengthy discussion about the financial situation, including levy talk, where you will hear what follows.
From Superintendent Shreffler:
- The district has made many cuts over the past few years and since the district has not had new money in almost 20 years, “anything we do will probably cut pretty severely.”
- He mentioned cutting 4 to 5 teachers, cutting or combining career-tech programs, and possibly reducing supplemental positions (coaches). He stated bus routes are difficult to cut with the size of our district, but “maybe one or two could be adjusted.”
- The savings he hoped to create is $450,000.
- He reminded the board that Ryan of Forecast 5 “says we need a levy that translates to $3 million per year.” This is an expert with a software program Marlington has employed to give insight into our finances.
From Treasurer Main:
- ESSER funds (COVID relief) are a federally-funded grant that are to be used for COVID-related expenses as well as loss in revenue. These funds reduce expenditures but are not in the general fund. Superintendent Shreffler added that “there are so many stipulations that it’s going to take a lot of discussion…because you can’t take the money and dump it into the general fund.” Treasurer Main reiterated that ESSER money is to be used to reduce expenditures.
- The levy amount being proposed is 7 mills which should generate $2.7 million
Further on, Superintendent Shreffler said “We’re coming to the, you know, the State saying you’re getting close to a fiscal issue. … I think the concern is we need operating money and we can make the levy less as long as people understand that means less services to kids, larger class sizes, less programs at the high school – but we can do that. It depends on what the community is willing to do.”
Despite being repeatedly warned of the financial issues that continued to mount, Mrs. Gabric and her majority continued to push forward. She next asked about the possibility of receiving “additional money in back pay from (Nexus) once that’s settled,” meaning the litigation which has tied up Nexus funds, with Marlington currently only receiving 38% of what was projected.
Superintendent Shreffler responded “I wouldn’t count on that. I don’t know – I just would not count on that. I’ve been around the block too long – I just wouldn’t count on that. … we’re talking YEARS before we would have any adjustment on pipeline money.”
As previously stated, this is a long and winding story with many details, and we hope you can see the complexity of the situation as well as the proof presented that the financial crisis we are in has been directly affected by the failed leadership of Mrs. Gabric.
The unreasonable and unfair treatment of administrators and staff has been the mark of Mrs. Gabric’s tenure on the board. Since becoming board president in January 2020, five administrators and at least eight teachers have left Marlington due to the atmosphere of distrust and micromanagement. That is an unprecedented number of staff departures, especially administrative staff, and it is more than coincidence.
Having repeatedly tried to change Marlington’s social media policy for staff, Mrs. Gabric wants to silence any dissenting opinion. What is troubling about that is deeper than a school district matter – it goes to the heart of our freedom of speech! While we certainly advocate for staff members to remain respectful, we can’t allow that to be construed as permission to silence all dissenting voices, in ANY organization!
The low morale and exodus of staff tells you that our students are not receiving the best education they could be receiving. This is quite possibly the worst – and most preventable – failure of a board member.