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High school renovation deadline looming

BALTIMORE – Tim Turner is the new assistant principal at Liberty Union Thurston High School.

The long-time vocational agriculture teacher replaces Chet Carlson who resigned to accept an elementary principal position with the City of Newark Schools.

“We’re very fortunate to have someone to step in,” Superintendent Paul Mathews told The Beacon. “He’ll be a great addition.” Turner’s first task with principal Ed Miller is to find a new vocational agriculture teacher.

In other business during Monday night’s school board meeting, members hired Natalie Brate as a sixth grade science teacher. The Muskingum College graduate has a master’s degree from Ashland University. Recently retired reading specialist Paula Connor was rehired following a July 12 public meeting. She will work an estimated 200 hours next school year as a reading specialist trainer. Board members also rescinded a supplemental contract with Eric Valentine as assistant football coach. He had failed to return a signed contract. Rescinding his contract allows a replacement to be hired.

A contract with Barbara Long, LISW to provide 12 hours per week of elementary school counseling services was approved. The Caring Connections organization and the Sands Foundation are each paying $5,760 of the cost, reducing the district’s cost to $5,760. “She does a great job,” Mathews said.

Board members approved a $5,620 contract with Spence Environmental Consulting, Inc. to do additional confirmatory sampling and subsurface investigation for a former underground storage tank at the high school. Mathews said the additional tests are hoped to demonstrate that the soil won’t have to be removed. Some ground water remediation will be required.

Members of the Family and Civic Engagement Committee have been appointed. They are: Shaun Hochradel, board representative; Bill Putnam, Jr., community representative; Becky Edwards, health and human services representative; Christa Grover, business representative; Paul Mathews, school district representative; and Amy Sharb, Susan Wagner, and Elleln Bell, parent representatives. The committee, outlined in state law, develops a five-year family and civic engagement plan 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.”

Board members also approved a job description for a family and civic engagement coordinator. So far, school districts have not been required to fill the position.

Board members also unanimously approved the Safe Routes to School plan that the Village of Baltimore will submit to the Ohio Department of Transportation. The plan was developed by Village Administrator Marsha Hall, Police Chief Mike Tussey, Board President Art Brate and Mathews. The program encourages elementary and middle school students to walk or bike to school.

The plan, according to Hall, addresses engneering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation. Baltimore received a grant from ODOT to draft the plan which is required if funding is sought for infrastructure improvements. The plan included an engineering study conducted and funded by ODOT. Hall said the major high priority infrastructure recommendations include additional sidewalks and walking paths plus improvements to crosswalks and flashers. The noninfrastructure recommendations include walking programs, walk- to-school days, safety towns, bike rodeos and additional police patrols. Hall said the village expects to seek funding this fall for several recommendations once ODOT approves the plan.

In his report, district treasurer David Butler said the quarterly income tax receipts in July declined three percent compared to a year ago. He also said health insurance costs rose an average of 12.8 percent for the new contract beginning July 1.

Architect Joe Schappa updated board members on the construction of the new middle school and the high school renovation project. At the new middle school, most of the block for the gym walls is up and some block has been laid for all four instructional wings. Most of the underground pumping is in. Plans still call to install the roof deck beginning Nov. 21 and to have the new school under roof by winter. “It is still on schedule,” Schappa said.

It is coming down to the wire for the high school renovation. School startup has been pushed back to Sept. 8 for students and that deadline is now looming large.

This summer’s hot and humid weather has not helped the tight construction schedule. Temperature and humidity in the school have soared while the HVAC system was being redone. Air conditioning was restored to the building Monday.

“Our main problem is with the floor,” Schappa reported. Floors were stripped down to the concrete base and thanks to the humidity there is quite a bit of moisture in the concrete.

There is a solution, Schappa said, but it is expensive. A waterproof membrane would be troweled onto the concrete to seal the moisture in the slab. A special adhesive that can withstand vapor pressure would also be used to hold down the new sheet vinyl flooring. That fix, if required on both floors, would increase costs about $124,000, he said.

Board members toured the high school after the meeting. Schappa, who had been on site Monday morning, noticed a significant difference in both temperature and humidity by early evening. Probes have been installed in the concrete floors to monitor moisture levels. He is cautiously optimistic that air conditioning will dry out the concrete enough to allow the vinyl flooring to be installed as planned. “We may have to be prepared to go to school without all the flooring in place,” Schappa warned.

Some overtime has been authorized and some contractors have worked weekends in an attempt to catch up. Considerable work remains to be done, but upwards of two dozen workers are on the job daily. Schappa said the project will look much better when the new ceiling tiles are installed. Temperatures have to be below 85 to install them which has now been achieved.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 13 in the high school library.

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