HEBRON – Lakewood School Board members covered a lot of ground in Wednesday evening’s three- hour plus long meeting. It was new board member Brittany Misner’s first meeting. She was selected by board members May 9, to replace Bill Gulick who resigned last month.
Lakewood High School has a new principal. Assistant principal Kevin Krier got his promotion on the second try. Superintendent Mary Kay Andrews’ recommendation didn’t make the pre-meeting agenda released Monday; she announced the agenda addition at the beginning of the meeting. But Krier’s fans somehow got advance notice as dozens of athletic boosters, supportive teachers and other supporters packed the meeting. Andrews added her recommendation to her consent agenda which is “considered routine” with “no separate discussion.” Board member Bill Pollard requested that Krier’s promotion be removed from the consent agenda for separate consideration.
Andrews recommended a two-contract year contract at $93,770 (Step 4) per year for Krier. “He has my full recommendation,” she said.
Her recommendation drew several comments during the first public comment period. Parent Dave Lohr expressed concerns about Krier’s behavior last month when board members rejected his promotion. While board member Jonathan Lynch agreed that Krier stormed out of the meeting, he said Krier didn’t use an expletive. That came from Rex Sponhaltz, he said.
“We need to raise the bar on leadership,” Lohr continued. “I need better examples for my kids.”
Mandy Ewing, a 20-year teacher at Lakewood, said, “The climate of this building (high school) has changed exponentially since February (when high school principal Stacy Stein resigned for personal reasons). He (Kevin Krier) is the reason we are happy.”
High school teacher Kara Caton-Searls said, “We have the momentum going now.” A third high school teacher said, “You can not do better than Mr. Krier.”
When the Krier recommendation came up, Pollard explained, “This isn’t a consent agenda item.” He added that the applicant pool this time looked stale. His request that a search firm be used to broaden the pool of applicants was rejected by Andrews.
This time the vote was 3-2 to hire Krier. President Steve Thorp was the last to vote and his “yes” vote triggered loud applause. He was the swing vote between last month’s rejection and Wednesday night’s approval.
Thorp agreed that the applicant pool wasn’t strong. He said he sat in on the last set of interviews. No board members were involved in the interviews last month. Thorp said Krier wasn’t his first choice but he was everyone else’s in the room. “I still have concerns about the (athletic booster event) Night at the Races.”
Thorp continued, “I have seen some improvement. Mr. Krier treated my grandson exactly as he should have.” Thorp also has a bullied grandson at the high school. He decided to vote “yes,” when that grandson told him that Krier is “getting hard” on bullying.
“I voted ‘yes’ but I still have conflicted feelings about it,” Thorp said. “He only gets one chance and I hope he doesn’t ruin that one chance.” Both Lynch and Pollard congratulated Krier during board member comments at the end of the meeting. “I would like to see the athletic boosters on a more positive path,” Pollard added.
Lakewood now has a student drug testing policy. Lynch pointed out a number of contradictions/ discrepancies in the 11-page policy. For example, on one page it said the drug testing contractor would notify parents first about a positive test. One page later, it said the building principal or athletic director would be notified first. Lynch believes strongly that parents should be notified first. Andrews agreed. “The parent should know first,” she said. Language stating that the building principal or athletic director must notify parents refers to notification “of the consequences” of the positive test.
Lynch also asked about how the testing dates will be set. Krier said the district’s to-benamed designated official and the contractor will set the 20 test dates at the beginning of the school year. That calendar will be confidential but will be designed to avoid any state testing dates.
“This is a starting point,” board member Tara Houdeshell emphasized. “We don’t know how this will evolve.” She asked for at least twice yearly progress reports from Andrews and is interested in how the logistics are working out.
“We’re testing these kids not to punish them but to get them help,” Thorp added. Once it was clear that Lynch’s language clean-up will be incorporated, board members approved the policy by a 4-0 vote, with Lynch abstaining due to a professional conflict. The new policy doesn’t include a funding mechanism. Lynch told The Beacon Thursday that the discussion to date about funding has been to set a $20 per year fee per student subject to the testing policy. That fee, paid only once per year per student, should pay about half the program’s cost, Lynch said.
The new policy will apply to students in grades 7-12 who are required to have a parking permit or participate in a competitive extracurricular activity. Students participating in the following activities will be in the testing pool: baseball, basketball, bowling (boys & girls), cheerleading, cross country (boys & girls), drum major, fall drama, flag corps, football, golf (boys & girls), junior class officers, Quiz Bowl, robotics, senor class officers, soccer (boys & girls), softball, spring musical, student council, student drivers, swimming (boys & girls), track & field (boys & girls), volleyball and wrestling. Students participating in band and chorus will not be in the pool because they receive a grade for those activities. It is estimated some 430 – 450 students will be in the testing pool or nearly 50 percent of the students in grades 7 – 12.
The drug classes and substances are “considered illegal/ illicit or banned” for Lakewood students are:
Alcohol, Amphetamines, Anabolic Steroids, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Cocaine Metabolites, LSD, Marijuana Metabolities, Methadone, MDMA (Ecstasy), Nicotine, Opiates, Phencyclidine, Propoxyphene and Synthetic Drugs.
Positive test results will not have any academic consequences such as suspension or expulsion UNLESS the banned substance was ingested or consumed on school property. In those instances, existing rules and policies will dictate the consequences which can include suspension and expulsion.
For the first violation, the student can chose not to park or participate in covered activities for one calendar year or meet with a certified chemical dependency counselor for a chemical dependency assessment and then follow the counselor’s recommendations. The parent is responsible for all counseling expenses and providing documentation that the recommendations have been completed.
Students successfully completing the recommendations will lose a minimum of 25 percent of the season or 45 school days for non-athletic covered activities or parking. That 25 percent season ban will be applied to the next season if necessary. A 45-day ban will also roll over to the next school year if needed.
The new program will begin next school year. Students and their parent/guardian/custodian will have to sign the drug testing informed consent agreement before they could receive a parking permit or participate in a listed activity. Lakewood will be the sixth district in Licking County with a student drug testing program. They join Granville, Heath, Licking Valley, Newark and Utica.
The testing contractor is Sport Safe Testing Service, Inc. of Powell. The firm was started by Dr. Joseph Franz in 1996, after a child at a high school in Powell, was murdered over a $50 drug deal. Franz was the school’s sports physician and made it his mission to help keep kids off of drugs. Sport Safe now works with more than 100 school districts nationwide.
His son and co-owner, Chris Franz attended the board’s April 11, meeting. He emphasized there are “no observed samples.” The lab never gets a student name, just a number. Students witness the sample being split into two and initial the seals. Franz said the majority of the collectors are female.
Board members also heard the first reading of a new Threat Assessment Policy. Andrews said the policy establishes a district-wide Threat Assessment Team to discuss how to identify possible threats. The district is working with the City of Reynoldsburg Schools on the policy.
Lynch objected to language in the policy that the School Resource Officer(s) ‘may’ be on the team. “They should be on the top of the list to be involved,” he said. Rather they are at the bottom of the list of potential team members.
Andrews said the School Resource Officer(s) would be consulted and said she would review Lynch’s concerns. The board typically adopts a new policy or revision on its second reading.
Parents complaints about their children being bullied at school aren’t going away. Buckeye Lake parent Melissa Castin has raised concerns about bullying at board meetings several times this school year. She said Andrews has not answered her questions about the district policy and if any changes have been made. She asked what are the plans to address bullying next school year.
A Thornville address parent said her 10-year old son has dropped from the Principal’s List last year to D’s and F’s this year due to bullying. “This needs to be addressed.” She said her son and a friend who defended him were disciplined while the bully was not.
Thorp said he believes the complaints have reached the point where the district should set up a meeting over the summer like it did for school security. He added that his 14-year old grandson was told to ‘kill himself’ by bullies at the high school. He credited Pollard for originally suggesting the community meeting on bullying. Thorp believes poor communication between teachers and parents is part of the problem.
A Newark address father said his child had been bullied by one student for the entire school year. He said complaints to the teacher, assistant principal and principal went nowhere until Tuesday when his child was moved to another classroom after the situation became unbearable. He said bullies need counseling. Students shouldn’t have to face bullying for the whole school year. He also wants some accountability from staff members.
A Buckeye Lake father aid his daughter was choked from behind by another girl at Jackson Intermediate School. He found out about the incident from his daughter. He said bullies “need real consequences.”
During board member comments, Lynch emphasized, “We need to address bullying.”
Board members unanimously approved a resolution setting a maximum maturity of 28 years for bonds used to construct a new elementary school. A companion resolution asking the county auditor to set the millage (tax) rate for a $39,800,000 bond issue to be repaid over 28 years at an estimated 4.5 percent interest rate was also approved unanimously. Lynch said he thought the bond issue would total $37,500,000. District Treasurer Glenna Plaisted said $39,800,000 included a six percent contingency for inflation. The millage will be set at the Board’s June 13, meeting and the issue will be on November ballot.
Plaisted also reviewed the latest version of the district’s semi-annual five year financial forecast. She had some good news – property tax revenues were up about $220,000 this year and the district attracted 18 more Open Enrollment students than she had estimated. That increased revenue by nearly $110,000. Renewal of the district’s ten year, 9.9 mill emergency levy next year is critical to the district’s financial wellbeing. It brings in $3,538,880 a year.
In other business Wednesday, board members approved a long superintendent’s consent agenda including:
• Resignation of high school Spanish teacher Rossanna Bygrave;
• Retirement of school bus driver Connie Wogan;
• Hired Kelsey Boyer as a fifth grade teacher at Jackson Intermediate School;
• Approved administrative/ supervisory contracts renewals for Jessica Fry, Lakewood Middle School principal (three years); Director of Facilities and Maintenance Kyle Mathews (two years); Food Services Director Jennifer Stover (three years); Transportation Director Rodney Stufflebean (three years); and Guy Willliams, Jackson Intermediate assistant principal (one year);
• Approved coaching supplemental contracts for the 2018- 19 school year for Jason Lee, varsity football head coach; Pat Dimmick, varsity boys basketball head coach; Criss Nadolson, girls golf head coach; Frank Marshall, boys soccer head coach; Brittany Baker, girls soccer head coach; Sharon Adams, varsity volleyball head coach; Roger Atwood, varsity wrestling head coach; Dan Sekerak, boys cross country head coach; Stephanie Allman, co-ed swimming head coach; Lynde Webster, high school football and basketball cheerleading advisor; Bill Sanders, varsity football assistant coach; Jim Harmon, varsity football assistant coach; Tanner Taylor, varsity football assistant coach; Donn Strock, varsity boys basketball assistant coach; Scott Cummins, varsity girls basketball assistant coach; Christopher Pound, varsity girls basketball assistant coach; Rex Sponhaltz, middle school athletic events supervisor; Greg Strouse, assistant football coach; Anthony Clark, assistant football coach; Melissa Tucker, varsity volleyball assistant coach; Jeromy Searls, freshman boys basketball coach; Brian Blakely, 7th grade football coach; Julie Wigal, split position as 8th grade girls basketball coach; Mat Bowen, junior varsity boys golf coach; Jeff Harman, middle school girls cross country coach; Matt Frischen, 7th grade volleyball coach; Erica Belknap, 8th grade volleyball coach; Sara Abbott, 7th and 8th grade football and basketball cheerleading advisor; John Justice as a volunteer football and wrestling coach; and Craig Smart, volunteer bowling coach.
• Hired Michael Haudenschild as Media Services and Technology Director on a oneyear contract. He has 12 years experience providing technology to educators. Haudenschild comes to Lakewood from OSU and has worked for the Granville and New Albany school districts. His wife is a science teacher at Lakewood High School.
Lynch asked that a recommended five-year contract renewal for athletic director Bo Hansen be removed from the consent agenda. He said the position normally gets a two or three year contract. Andrews said Hansen is currently on a five-year contract. His contract at $81,382 a year was approved unanimously.
During the recognition portion of the meeting, Andrews praised band members who participated in the Ohio Music Education Association’s Solo and Ensemble competition. Awards were:
• Superior – Christi Blaha; Aidan Russell; Braden Poling and Austin Williamson.
• Excellent – Rachel Vitchner; Josiah Ellinger; Cole Morgan; and Christi Blaha/Briar Clawon (duet).
• Good – Aiden Russell/ Braden Poling/Josiah Ellinger (trio) and Cassidy McAlpine.
Cheryl Ryan and Scott Gerfen from the Ohio School Board Association (OSBA) presented the results of the 16-day long on-line community survey. The Association conducted the survey and tabulated the results. Editor’s Note: The Beacon will outline the results in a future issue. Board members tentatively set an open session meeting with OSBA, the community and staff to discuss the results for Thursday, July 12.
The Board’s Facilities Committee will meet at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, at the administration office. Misner is also replacing Gulick on the committee. The Board’s next regular meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, in the high school library. A special Board meeting to approve temporary appropriations for next fiscal year and to approve last-minute employment contracts is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27, in the high school library.