Eight apply to take Farmer’s board seat
BALTIMORE - Interest was high to fill Joe Farmer’s seat on the Liberty Union-Thurston Board of Education. Eight district residents were interviewed for 30 minutes each by board members over two meetings last week.
The vacancy occurred when 19-year board veteran Joe Farmer was appointed to the Ohio Board of Education by Governor John Kasich on January 18. Farmer was appointed to a four-year term running through 2014.
Judith Cosgray was unanimously selected Monday night to replace Farmer. Her term runs through the end of the year. Cosgray is a Baltimore resident who moved to the area to become the Baltimore Branch Manager of the Fairfield County District Library. She is now the Technical Services Manager of the Pickerington Public Library. Cosgray has a Bachelor of Arts from Youngstown State University and a Master of Library and Information Science from Kent State University. She is currently working on a Master of Science in Administration.
Cosgray has been involved with the district since moving to the area, serving as president, vice president and treasurer of the Liberty Union Elementary School Boosters. She also is the treasurer of Citizens for Liberty Union Thurston Schools. Cosgray is a board member of the Baltimore Area Chamber of Commerce and Baltimore Festival Association.
During Monday night’s meeting, former board member and now state board member Joe Farmer made his first school visit since his appointment. “I hated leaving,” he said. “I jumped from the frying pan into the fire.” As a governor’s appointment, Farmer represents residents state-wide. He was appointed, Farmer told The Beacon, to represent smaller, rural districts on the state board.
District Treasurer David Butler had some good financial news. For the first time in several years, collections from the district’s income tax increased relative the same period last year. Collections were up $19,000, but still trail pre-recession levels. The county auditor increased the value of property in the district by just .69 percent, Butler reported. Residential and commercial valuations were down, but were offset by increases in agricultural values triggered by substantially higher commodity prices, particularly for corn.
Middle schools students will have a new school building next school year and a new principal. Board members reluctantly accepted Hank Gavarkavich’s resignation for retirement purposes effective June 30. Superintendent Paul Mathews recounted how eight years ago he and retiring Superintendent John Schiller had a lot of applicants for the post, but none really stood out until Gavarkavich applied. He stood out, Mathews said. “He’s done a great job,” Mathews added. “He will be very difficult to replace.” Both the elementary and high school principals have retired, but have returned to their same job.
In other personnel decisions, board members approved the following supplemental contracts:
• Krista Azeltine as Head Boys Track;
• Jon Morris as Head Girls Track;
• Ashleigh Millers as Assistant Track;
• Jacob Kemmerer and Tim Smith as Co-Assistant Track;
• Jeff Smolewski as Volunteer High School Track;
• Jared Stewart as Head Baseball;
• Chris Staten as Volunteer Baseball;
• Michael Schmidt as Junior Varsity Baseball;
• Steven Brown as Volunteer Baseball;
• Bill Putnam as Head Softball;
• Doug Mix as Volunteer Softball;
• Renee Mangette as Junior High Boys Track; and
• Susan Steffen as Junior High Girls Track.
Board members unanimously approved the cross county camp set for July 31 - August 4, at Hocking Hills State Park. The cost to team members is $40 each. Most of the funds for the annual camp come from Baltimore Festival Road Race.
Board members also unanimously approved a revised policy on Staff-Student Relations. Some clarifying revisions were made: “Staff members should not give or receive expensive gifts from students which could be interpreted as being of a personal nature.” “In most situations, it would not be appropriate for students to attend staff-oriented dinners, parties or functions.” “As role models, staff members should not use tobacco, alcohol in the presence of students. Staff members should not be in attendance a activities where students are present and there is illegal tobacco, alcohol or drug activity.
Mathews stood in for architect Joe Schappa on the monthly construction projects update. Plans for the new district office and maintenance facility are moving to the construction document stage. Most those plans are ready, the next step is filing for a building permit from the village. The timeline is to get permit by the end of this month so the bids can go out late this month. Both buildings will be one-story, stick and frame buildings that will have a brick veneer to match the nearby elementary school. The office will include a large meeting room, holding up to 50 people for board meetings, staff meetings and training sessions. Currently, meetings that large are held at a local church.
At the high school, the auditorium renovation is in the final phase. Water and air balance on the heating and cooling system is an issue. Work is also being done to try to quiet the air handling system for the gym. The long-awaited stair treads for the high school steps will be installed this week.
At the new middle school, all the windows are now on-site and installation is beginning. Metal framing and drywall is going up in two of the four classroom wings. “There has been tremendous progress in the past few weeks,” Mathews said.
Both of the co-students-of-the-month are seniors. Brandon Englehart, son of Michele Rowland and Meredith Englehart, was selected for being a model student. He plans to attend Ohio University-Lancaster to study history and perhaps return to the classroom as a teacher.
Joshua Motts, son of Laura and Robert Motts, is very active in the high school music program as a trumpet player in the marching, concert, jazz and pep bands. He is also a four-year member of the cross country and track teams, the National Honor Society and is an Eagle Scout. Motts hopes to become an oral surgeon.
The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, March 14, in the high school library.