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Safety of middle school soccer field questioned

BALTIMORE – For the second month in a row, two soccer parents raised an issue with Liberty Union – Thurston School Board members.

Last month, two parents urged board members to hire Jeff Raymond as the head girls soccer coach. He was hired at a special board meeting last month.

Monday night, two parents complained about the condition of the soccer field at the middle school complex. Michael Winchell said grass is still very sparse. He said some dirt added to the field was full of rocks, displaying several fist-sized rocks that he picked up from the field.

“The field generally is not safe. Somebody is going to get hurt,” Winchell told board members. He added that even removing the rocks is dangerous as it leaves holes in the ground.

Winchell suggested that games be played on the high school football field until the soccer field is safe.

Brian Arnold said his son was hurt by some debris from the field. two years ago. “This isn’t football versus soccer,” he said.

Board member Shaun Hochrael said he saw some of the rocks during a work party organized by Raymond. “We need to look into it,” he said. “ We certainly don’t want any kids hurt,” board member John Hutton said.

Superintendent Paul Mathews said the field was aerated with the holes backfilled with sand. He said league soccer games would be played at the high school and after the meeting board members were making plans to check the field once it stopped raining.

In other business, Monday night, Treasurer David Butler said the fiscal year ended in June with real estate tax revenue up about $10,000 over the previous year. District income tax revenue was up about 1.5 percent over the previous year. On the negative side, he said the district was paying more for water and sewer.

Mathews said the additional concrete work around the elementary school was being done around the rain. “They have really got a lot done,” he reported.

Work on the Safe Routes to School sidewalk extensions is also underway. The Ohio Department of Transportation came up with the needed additional funds after estimates and bids came in higher than expected. Two months ago, board members and village council members agree to contribute $16,000 each to bridge the shortfall, but that wasn’t necessary. Mathews said board members need to talk about the impact on close-in bus routes. Elementary students would continue to ride buses to school, but maybe grades 5 to 8 should use the new sidewalks/paths. Some 10-25 students could be affected.

Board members held three special meetings in June to address personnel issues. Actions taken include:

• Kristine Morris was hired as an elementary school intervention specialist;

• Jill Palmer will be the high school chemistry teacher for one year, filling Holly Lavender’s position while she works on a state department of education project;

• Kevin Peters resigned as high school information technology teacher;

• Jodi Funk was hired as a middle school intervention specialist;

• Craig Hart was hired as vocational agriculture teacher; and

• Christina Matthews resigned as school nurse.

Board members also agreed to buy 198 convertible personal computers at a total cost of $122,364. The computers are needed to prepare students for the upcoming state online assessment requirements.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, August 12, at the district office.

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