2010-07-17 / News

Middle school construction is underway

By Charles Prince

BALTIMORE – Kelli Brownfield will return as elementary school principal.

Liberty Union-Thurston Board of Education members held a special meeting June 21 to hear comments on Brownfield’s rehire request after she retired at the end of the school year. Board members unanimously approved a three-year contract with Brownfield Monday night.

Brownfield is the second administrator in as many months to retire and then seek to be rehired. Last month, board members unanimously agreed to rehire District Treasurer David Butler, Jr. on a three-year contract.

Construction on the new middle school is now underway. Architect Joe Schappa told board members most of the concrete foundations have been installed. The pad for the parking lot on the north side has been built. Underground plumbing is being installed and electrical power is being run to the site. The stormwater retention pond south of the elementary school is nearly complete and water is no longer pooling on the construction pad, he added.

Plans are to have the school under roof by the end of November which will give contractors plenty of time to have it complete for students in August 2011. The school will be heated and cooled by a geothermal system based on a some 150 wells. The wells will be drilled on 20 foot centers in a wellfield on the east side of the new school. Each will be drilled 315 feet deep with the wellheads connected to the network four feet below the surface. The system uses the relative constant ground temperature for heating and cooling.

Schappa said a traffic impact study done at the request of the Village of Baltimore demonstrates the need for a left turn lane on southbound Ohio 158 into the north drive for both the elementary and middle schools. Village Administrator Marsha Hall said the study determined that 54 percent of the vehicles traveling southbound during peak school hours are making a left turn into the school lots.

Schappa said $300,000 in savings from below estimate bids has been set aside for the project. The Ohio School Facilities Commission has also agreed to co-fund the turn lane. He expects construction to take three months with work starting next spring.

Work on the high school renovation is on a much tighter schedule. A key effort, Schappa said, is to get air conditioning back on throughout the entire building by August 3. “It’s been pretty hot and humid the last two weeks,” he said. Once air conditioning is back on, ceiling and floor tiles can be installed.

The gym has been painted and new lights have been installed. The major demolition work is done and one area of concern about how to move a major bearing wall for the second floor has been resolved. “It is coming,” Schappa said. “The schedule is extremely tight. We still believe it will be done.” Students won’t return to school until Sept. 8, giving workers a couple extra weeks to finish the renovation.

Schappa added that contractors have expressed some concern about kids on bicycles and some vehicular traffic through the middle school construction site. Signage will be improved with a sign prohibiting non-construction traffic on the bus parking lane. The western construction fence will also be extended to the north property line with the church. A gate will allow limited access to the eastern athletic fields.

In his financial report, Butler said income tax receipts for the just completed fiscal year were down $150,000 from the previous year. That turned out to be better than his estimated $250,000 shortfall. Real estate tax income was about the same as the previous year.

He continues to be concerned about what happens to the basic state or foundation aid for the 2011-2012 school year. Federal stimulus money accounts for 8.5 percent of foundation aid for 2010-2011 and is not expected to be available the following year. Special programs funded with stimulus money last year are already being cut. For example, the district received $75,000 in Title 1 stimulus last year. That’s been cut to $9,000 for the coming year.

High school principal Ed Miller reviewed the revised student athletic participation handbook with the board. Parents and student athletes will be required to sign the Informed Consent Agreement.

The rules apply 24/7 during the specific sport season. Cumulative offenses are for grades 7-8 and 9-12. Students “are expected to avoid gatherings and activities which may lead to a violation of existing rules or cause undue criticism of the team/organization of which they are members.”

There are two sets of penalties – tobacco which accumulates within one school year and alcohol/ narcotics/substances which accumulate for middle school and then high school years. Specific penalties are set. “It takes the coach out of it,” Miller explained.

Tobacco:

• First offense: Five day “denial of partipation” with the student continuing to practice and missing at least one athletic contest.

• Second offense: Twenty day “denial of partipation” with the student continuing to practice and missing at least four athletic contests.

• Third offense: Lose participation rights for that school year.A

lcohol/Narcotics/Substances:

• First offense: Option of losing 15 participation days, missing at least two athletic contest if athlete sets a timely appointment with a certified chemical dependency counselor or agency for an assessment and follows the recommendations of the counselor. Athlete must also agree to weekly drug tests for six weeks at parents’ expense if requested by athletic director. Or athlete is out for the rest of the current athletic season and the next season in which the athlete participates.

• Second offense: Athlete is out for the rest of the current athletic season and the next season in which the athlete participates.

• Third offense: Banned from participating in athletics.

Board members unanimously approved the revised policy.

Board members also reviewed a draft job description for a Family and Civic Engagement Coordinator position. Public school districts are required to set a job description and to appoint members to a Family and Civic Engagement Committee. So far, districts aren’t required to fill the position which requires a Pupil Services or Administrative License from the Ohio Department of Education and a social work license. The coordinator “will work to help students resolve personal, emotional and social problems that interfere with their adjustments to school and their capacity to benefit to the fullest from the education offered them.”

In their personnel decisions, board members accepted the resignation of Rochelle Nelson. She was a teacher for gfted students primarily in grades 4-6. The following supplemental contracts were approved: Emily Fisher - vocal music; Wendy Buskirk - teacher mentor; Holly lavender and Kevin King - co- science fair; and Kelli Carroll - junior high football cheerleading coach.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, August 9 in the elementary school library.

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