“I want to praise the quality of the teachers in our school district,” parent Michelle D’Amico said before the crowd, which included many teachers. “They are worth every penny that is in our school’s budget.”
D’Amico referenced the district’s projected budget deficit in the five-year financial forecast approved at the May 9 meeting.
“According to these forecasts, a deficit has been projected seven of the past 10 years, yet in actuality, there was only one year where we were really in a deficit situation, in 2013,” D’Amico said. “This emphasis on how bad our financial situation might be is a ploy to not pay our teachers better. Because of this action, and this attitude, we are losing good teachers. Our emphasis should be keeping these teachers.”
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‘We are losing good, young teachers to other school districts’
Parent Megan Renner agreed.
“We are losing good, young teachers to other school districts because these other districts appreciate having good teachers, while our board demonstrates a lack of care,” Renner said. “When these teachers leave, it is our children who are the ones who are hurt. I have to explain to one of my children why a teacher whom he loved is gone. I don’t know how I am going to that.”
Resignations were accepted for teachers Alyssa Rabatin, eighth-grade language arts; Lindsay Frank, intervention specialist; Maggie Thomas, seventh-grade language arts; Justin Abshear, fifth-grade science; Mary Bowers, intervention specialist; Rachel Kelly, choir director; and Josh Miller, physical science and STEM.
Board President John Carroll asked Superintendent Catherine Puster if information could be gleaned from exit interviews with the departing staff as to why they were leaving the district.
“We are sorry to lose them,” Carroll said.
“There are some great teachers on this list,” board member Judy Briggs added.
Upgrades approved from boilers to roofs to toilets
In other action, the board approved a long list of replacement and upgrade projects across the school district. The action prompted a conversation between Carroll, who is on the Building and Grounds Committee, and board member Dave Hunter, who noted some of the improvements were listed as future projects to be funded by the permanent improvement levy.
“However, I see you are funding them with ESSER (Pandemic relief) funds,” Hunter said. “I have no problem with it, because there are plenty of other projects we could fund with our permanent improvement funds.”
Projects selected for ESSER funding include replacement of the boiler at the McMullen Elementary School, $49,980 times two, one to be installed in June and the other in August; upgrade to the riding scrubber for the high school gym, $12,800; roof restoration labor, high school Building I, $49,950, and materials, $72,435; roof, Building 2, $49,900 labor and $72,636 labor; Building 3, $34,630 labor and $63,884 materials; boiler controls, McMullen School, $73,148, Budd School, $79,048, and high school, $127,098.
Other projects include upgrading McMullen School camera system, $24,562; Budd School camera system, $12,918; high school camera system, $24,562; bus garage camera system, $3,970; and stadium camera system, $3,970; replace McMullen second floor toilets, $6,480; and replace first floor urinals at McMullen, $32,980.
Also earmarked for ESSER funding is replacement of the high school dishwasher system, $12,982.
School board OKs FFA participation accepts donations, hires staff
The board approved participation in the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis Oct. 25-29.
Donations were accepted including a new Trex (recycled plastic composite) park bench from the Perrysville Lions Club. The Lions in both Perrysville and Loudonville are recycling plastic and receive benches like these for each 500 pounds of plastic collected for recycling.
Also accepted were donations of encouragement to staff from the Loudonville Church of the Nazarene.
The board hired Stephen Fowler as director of pupil services. An administrator for 13 of his 17 years in education, Fowler most recently served as student-services director at New London the past two years.
The board accepted the resignation, for retirement, of Ross Humphrey, district food truck driver; and of Sierra Burkhalter, Budd School paraprofessional.
Briggs voted against filling two nonunion positions, the advancement of district library-media coordinator Julie Seboe to a new position as director of innovation and technology, and Angela Layton as a literacy coach working as part of the new state dyslexia education requirements.
In explaining the action, Puster said she had tried to do without certain administrative positions in past years, including technology coordinator and athletic director, and it was a “disaster.”
“I am building these posts to avoid other disasters,” she said.
The rest of the board, with member Bruce Davis absent, approved filling the positions.
Puster said she still needs to hire a new library-media coordinator.
Briggs also criticized action to advance Sherry Hannan from the post of aide in the Budd School office to school secretary.
“The way this is set up Hannan will receive the same salary, even though she is working in a new position with more responsibility,” Briggs said. Hunter advised her that the salary schedule, approved through union contract, states what Hannan’s new salary would be. “We can’t change the contract.”
Briggs asked that a memo be attached to Hannan’s contract noting she deserves more money because of her new position.
She voted for Hannan’s new position, along with Brice McCaskey and Hannah Bell as McMullen School paraprofessionals.
The board also hired George Lee as assistant transportation supervisor, retroactive to May 31; Tiffany Ziegler as a seventh-grade English teacher; and John Curtis as a third-grade teacher.
Lists of summer school staff and summer maintenance workers were also approved.
Reading test scores could improve
Puster and curriculum director Diana McMillen reviewed a curriculum analysis of the district that shows the district could improve its reading test scores.
“It is my opinion that if a student can’t read, he won’t be able to write or do well in other learning,” Puster said.
The new state dyslexia mandates will require more professional development, particularly emphasizing reading,” McMilllen said.
Carroll was presented a certificate of appreciation as a school board member for more than 10 years.
The board met behind closed doors to discuss negotiations with teaching staff, and to consider the employment and compensation of a public employee or official.