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Liberty Union opening first bids for new school on July 6

BALTIMORE – Liberty Union Thurston School Board members held their second meeting of the month Monday night.

The special meeting was originally set to consider whether to rehire retired teacher Danny R. Johnson, but the agenda turned out to be much longer.

Board members unanimously approved a one year contract for Johnson as a health, physical education and industrial technology teacher. Julie German’s resignation as a middle school reading teacher was unanimously accepted. A special board meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 9 to hire a replacement. Denise McGee’s resignation as varsity cheerleading advisor was also accepted.

Board members also set meal prices at the same level as last year. Prices could increase during the school year, if the food service department starts losing money. Breakfast is free for reduced price students and $1.10 for all other students. Reduced price lunches are 40¢. Elementary student lunches are $2.15 and middle/ high school lunches are $2.40. A bread bid from Heiner’s Bakery and a milk bid from United Dairy via the Metropolitan Education Council were accepted.

Board members also approved a contract with New Horizons Counseling to provide a total of 528 hours of counseling for elementary and middle school students at a cost of $23,044. Superintendent Paul Mathews said depression and suicide screening provided to 9th and 10th graders last year via a grant will cost $5,000 this year. A decision on whether to continue that program will be made later.

A revised athletic eligibility policy was approved unanimously without comment. Liberty Union has two distinct academic eligibility requirement for high school athetes. The Ohio High School Athletic Association requires that a student be currently enrolled in and passing courses equaling five or more credits to be eligible. Liberty Union was checking eligibility every 4.5 weeks or twice a grading period. OSHAA requires checks every nine weeks. The more frequent checks were OK for determining ineligibility, but OSHAA won’t allow reinstatement at 4.5 week intervals. The district believes determining ineligibility every 4.5 weeks, while limiting reinstatement to every nine weeks is unfair to its athletes. The new policy will check compliance at the end of every nine week grading period. The district also has a grade point average standard. Students in grade nine must have a GPA of 1.75 or greater. The minimum GPA increases to 2.0 for students in grades 10 through 12. Since OSHAA doesn’t have a GPA requirement, Liberty Union is free to continue to check GPA eligibility every 4.5 weeks. Athletes can also be reinstated at that interval.

Board members approved revised handbooks for elementary, middle school and high school students as well as for high school staff. Changes were minor. The biggest change is a new Technology Acceptable Use Policy and Handbook. The new nine-page handbook includes sign-off pages for students and staffs. It replaces a paragraph or so in the student handbooks.

“We needed to catch up,” Mathews told board members. “We spent an awful lot of time on this.”

The handbook also includes a student cellular phone and other electronic communication device policy. Students are permitted to have such devices on school property, “provided they are turned off and out of sight during school hours.” Students may not use them to text, search the internet or take images unless authorized under emergency situations by the building principal. It also advises parents and guardians that the best way to contact a student at school is to call the school’s office.

Site preparation bids for the new middle school school are due at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 6. The bids will be taken to the elementary school where they will be publically opened. About a dozen firms attended a pre-bid meeting last week, increasing hopes that the heightened competition will push costs below estimates.

The district’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, July 13 at the Sands Land Laboratory just south of the elementary school. The first order of business is a groundbreaking ceremony for the new middle school that will be constructed east of the elementary school.

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