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Lakewood student: ‘I do not feel safe in this school now’

HEBRON – For the second monthly board meeting in a row, students and parents asked district administrators and board members to crack down on drug sales and use at the high school.

Several students, including student government president and senior Cameron Vayanky, said they have been bullied and harassed by students selling and using drugs at the high school.

“I do not feel safe in this school now,” Vayanky said. “It is a struggle to come to this school sometimes.”

He added that some adults don’t believe them. “I beg, I beg, please listen to us…We need your help. Listen to us.”

Vayanky said students suspected of reporting drug use/sales are targeted in the cafeteria. Food has been thrown on them with little or no action by teachers present. “The cafeteria smells like weed,” he added.

After the students spoke Buckeye Lake Mayor-elect Peggy Wells told board members and administrators that the students had demonstrated far more leadership on the drug problem than they did. She added that cracking down on drug sales in Buckeye Lake Village is a top priority.

Parent Earl Wallace asked what had been done after the widespread complaints about drugs at the November board meeting. Superintendent Mary Kay Andrews said a lot had been going on but she couldn’t talk about any specifics. Wallace said he wasn’t seeking names but rather what kind of actions have taken place. Andrews mentioned a newly organized task force but didn’t name any members. Vayanky later mentioned that no seniors are on the task force. Andrew also mentioned talking with parents about drug use and using some outside counseling services. She did not comment on whether any students had been suspended or referred for criminal charges.

A motion to accept the Lakewood Athletic Boosters’ donation of the Lancer stadium synthetic turf to the district drew a number of questions. President Judy White simply thanked questioners during the first public participation opportunity for their comments.

It’s been widely known for months that the Boosters have borrowed somewhere around $450,000 to meet their commitment to pay for the turf itself when their years-long fundraising effort fell far short of their goal. The fear has been that somehow the district (taxpayers) could end up responsible for the loan if the Boosters are unable to pay it. Andrews and White have insisted repeatedly that the district has no liability should the Boosters not pay off the loan. However, the Boosters refusal to share any details about the loan continue to fuel the concerns. Some residents were concerned that the donation of the turf could also include ultimate responsibility for the loan repayment.

Several Booster members present said the donation does not include the loan. They mentioned that group made about $30,000 manning the beer booths at the inaugural Lost Lands Festival at Legend Valley. The group has a continuing relationship with Legend Valley which will help pay off the loan.

The vote to accept the donation was 4 -1, with board member Steve Thorp voting “no.” He thanked the Boosters for their donation and said he knew it isn’t easy to raise money. Thorp opined that some members had mortgaged their homes or something else to get the loan. Several members insisted it was an unsecured loan from Park National Bank.

Thorp explained that he sought some assurances that the district won’t end up responsible for the unpaid balance down the road.

“I asked for our files in the district, a letter from Park National Bank reassuring that it is the case (that the district is not responsible for the loan). We don’t need to know how much the loan is. I think we should have that and several weeks ago I asked for it. No movement was made on that. It’s just something we could pull out and show we’re safe,” Thorp said.

In other business, board members unanimously approved the purchase of chiller and building control automation system from Trane U.S. for $247,632. Bids were not required since the purchase was made thru the State of Ohio Purchasing Cooperative.

A $338,800 contract with Robertson Construction, Inc. of Heath was unanimously approved. Five bids were received for the project which includes new rest rooms, a secured entryway and exterior painting.

Fifth grade teacher Janet Yost’s retirement was approved at the end of this school year.

Nine students were recognized for being named to the Ohio Music Education Association’s Honor Band. They are: Nick Andujar, Connor Blaha, Christi Blaha, Chase Deweese, Landry Driskel, Destin Letourneau, Devyn Sowry, Kaitlyn Vitchner and Rachel Vitchner.

It was the last board meeting for three board members. President Judy White and Tim Phillips lost their reelection bids last November. Board member Tricia Good opted to retire. Each received a certificate of service and a glass trophy – White for 12 years, Good for 10 and Phillips for seven.

Tara Houdeshell, Jonathan Lynch, and Bill Pollard will be joining the board January 1. The five board members will hold their 2018 organizational meeting at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, January 10, in the high school library. The monthly regular board meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m.

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