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Liberty Union -Thurston superintendent search starting over

BALTIMORE – Liberty Union- Thurston School Board members hoped to name a new superintendent at their April 14 regular meeting to replace 11-year veteran Paul Mathews who announced his retirement Feb. 20.

Board members spent about 90 minutes in executive or closed session Monday night discussing the employment of a public employee but did not take any action when they returned.

Board President John Hutton and Vice President Shaun Hochradel told The Beacon after the meeting that the position will be re-posted. Board members will continue to work with Fairfield County Superintendent Dan Montgomery on the restarted search.

Hockradel said 12 candidates applied and board members picked the top five for interviews. Two candidates withdrew after interviews which prompted the restart. “We’re looking for the right person,” Hutton explained.

Mathews is just the district’s third superintendent in 40 years. He’s been with the district for 35 years as a teacher, middle school principal and superintendent. His retirement is effective July 31.

In other business Monday night, district treasurer David Butler said real estate taxes are in for the fiscal year which ends June 30. Receipts are up $240,000 from last year. Revenue from the district’s income tax is up $80,000+ for the fiscal year with one more settlement due.

Board members unanimously approved benefit costs for health care for the next fiscal year. Medical/ Rx coverage is increasing nine percent to $862 per month for single coverage and $1,751 for family coverage. Dental insurance is unchanged at $70 per month for both single and family coverage. Coverage is now provided through the South Central Ohio Insurance Consortium which is self-funded by the school district members.

Pay-to-participate fees will continue to be $95 per student, per sport for the next school year. Eastland-Fairfield Career Center will provide remediation instruction June 16-27, for students who have failed the Ohio Graduation Test. The district will pay $50 per student with the student responsible for the rest of the $75 total cost.

Board members also approved a one-year leave of absence for first grade teacher Chelsie Bissett. The district will conduct a two-hour per day, two-week summer program for third-grade students who have not passed the Ohio Achievement Assessment. It will be scheduled for late June or early July, depending on when the Ohio Department of Education plans to administer the summer Ohio Achievement Assessment.

Two separate applications for the State’s “Straight A Fund” were approved. In the first, the district is partnering with other Fairfield County districts and the County Service Center to establish centralized high-need special education services, including adding additional classroom space at the Crossroads Alternative School.

In the second application, the district has joined with a wide group of Central Ohio school districts, seeking more computers and software programs for mathematics instruction. Grant decision awards will be made in June.

Mathews provided the Race-tothe Top Committee update in Holly Lavendar’s absence. There is now an option for a fifth year, he said. Some districts still have money and need more time so the districts don’t have to return funds.

“We’re out of money and have tried to do our work,” Mathews explained. Since no additional funds are available for the fifth year, Mathews recommended after consulting with Lavender that the district not participate. “We would be in the minority by declining,” he explained. “It would free us from all the red tape and bureaucracy.”

Kenzie Brownfield and Marissa Mattox were recognized as the costudents of the month. Brownfield, a junior, is the daughter of Lori and Jeffery Keirns. She is the Field Commander for the marching band, flute section leader in concert band, and active in the Pep Band, Jazz Band, Chorale, Knowledge Bowl, Yearbook staff, Interact Club and Prom Committee.

Mattox, a freshman, is the daughter of Edward and Deetra Mattox. She is active in varsity/JV basketball, JV volleyball and track. She is on the honor roll and a 4-H member who shows pig and sheep.

The board’s next regular meet ing is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, May 12, in the district office.

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