Keener returning to coach on new track
MILLERSPORT – Long-time track coach and retired math teacher Ken Keener is returning as head track coach next spring. The track team will be training and hosting meets on the school’s first ever all-weather track that is named after Keener.
Walnut Township School Board members unanimously approved a supplemental contract for Keener Monday night. Board members also accepted resignations from Tom Laird as assistant softball coach and Kevin Keener as junior high track coach. Laird is moving up to head softball coach.
Superintendent Ron Thornton introduced Josh Barrera as the new head baseball coach. The Sheridan star played baseball for four years at OSU, suffering a career ending shoulder injury in his senior year. Supplemental contracts for Barrera; Chad Dupler, assistant girls basketball coach; and Steve Pierce, assistant track coach, were also unanimously approved. Four volunteer coaches were also recognized: Brie Nebbergall and Krystal Washburn for girls basketball; Ethan Rose for boys basketball; and Alana Liptak, cheerleading.
Athletic director Scott Pohlman reported that raising the grade point average eligibility standard from 1.5 to 1.75 hasn’t hurt participation. He also updated board members on discussions about possibly leaving the Mid State League, Millersport, due to its size, can’t compete in some sports, particularly football. This year there aren’t enough players for girls or boys junior varsity basketball games, though boys basketball coach Kirk Grandy is trying to set up an abbreviated schedule for to get some playing time for his younger players.
Pohlman said his proposal for a small school division within the league was rejected and can’t be brought up again for two years. There are two options outside the league – become an independent or form a new league with similar size schools. Pohlman believes going independent is the least desirable of the options. He fears that status would increase travel expenses while reducing home gate revenue.
Thornton wants new league partners signed on the line, before Millersport gives the required two year notice to leave the league. Pohlman is looking for some direction, but board members didn’t comment.
Board President David Brookover thanked voters for renewing the five year emergency levy on the Nov. 3 ballot. Thornton quickly echoed his comments. With the levy renewed, board members unanimously agreed to purchase a new 71-passenger stock bus for $70,255 through its membership in the Metropolitan Educational Council cooperative bidding program. Thornton said the district should be buying a new bus every two years or so to maintain a reliable fleet. Five of the district’s nine buses are 10 years or older. Ten years is generally considered useful life. Board members moved quickly to buy the new bus since new models will cost about 10 percent more due to new emission standards. None of the fleet is air conditioned and this one is no exception. However, it does have a new ‘no student left behind’ alarm system that requires a check for dozing students to deactivate the alarm.
District Treasurer Kirk Grandy reported that the October quarterly distribution of the district’s income tax revenue was down four percent, or about $9,000, from projections.
Technology coordinator Mary Ford gave board members a demonstration in the new elementary school computer lab. A total of 30-20 inch Mac computers were purchased for students use along with a teacher’s station and laptop for portable troubleshooting with classroom computers and SmartBoards. Ford said she saw an ad promoting a free i-pod nano with every computer purchase so she asked for the same deal even though the district got significant educational discounts. To her surprise, the dealer agreed. She plans to put audio books on the 30 i-pods and believes they will be particularly helpful with special needs students. All the equipment, including a full three-year warranty, cost just under $35,000. The old computers have been moved out to classrooms and the music department.
Elementary science teacher Chris Deardurff briefly described an energy grant she received from American Electric Power. Each of her 125 science students will receive a packet valued at $70 each that contains four compact fluorescent light bulbs, draft stoppers for electrical outlets, weatherstripping including a door brush strip and a low flow showerhead. If installed in the student’s home, the items can save $250 per year in energy costs. The materials include lesson plans and demonstrations focusing on saving energy.
Board members also approved a request for “40 and Over Millersport Alumni” to use the elementary gym for basketball on Sunday afternoons - 2-4 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday nights from 9-10 p.m.