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Students will be subject to some new rules in August

BALTIMORE – Superintendent to-be Todd S. Osborn was introduced at Monday night’s Liberty Union-Thurston School Board Meeting.

Osborn, currently principal of Canton South High School, will be become the district’s fourth superintendent in 40 years on August 1. Superintendent Paul Mathews is retiring July 31 after 35 years with the district, including 11 as superintendent.

After months of lengthy executive or closed sessions and nearly a dozen special board meetings to select a new superintendent, Monday’s meeting was a routine, end of the school year meeting.

The three building principals outlined the few changes to their student handbooks for next school year.

At the high school, absences longer than 10 days will require a medical excuse to be considered an excused absence. Wednesday school for minor rule violations will run from 3 to 5 p.m. instead of the current 3-6 p.m. The change makes it consistent with the practice at the middle school.

At the middle school, the prohibition about public derogatory comments about teachers and administrators will be expanded to include social media. Running shorts have been specifically banned in the dress code as have pajama pants and bandanas.

The elementary school is aligning its bells with the middle and high schools. The tardy bell will ring at 8:50 a.m. The current five-minute reprieve from being counted tardy has been eliminated so classes can start at 8:50. Teachers want to use that five minutes for instruction, principal Linda Rainey told board members. The revised handbook also allows elementary students to have cell phones, provided they are out-of-sight and turned off.

High school and elementary school fees for the 2014-15 school year were also approved. The participation fee for the color guard will be increased to $50 from $20 to make it consistent with the band fee. Some students move back and forth between the two groups. The senior class fee for graduation was cut $5 to $35. A new and optional $50 fee will allow high school students to take home their assigned laptop computer.

Kindergarten fees will total $46 next year. A handwriting workbook and increased fee for supplies are responsible for the increase. The fourth grade fee will also be higher due to a $15 fee for a social studies workbook.

Board members also approved two food service contracts. Heiner’s Bakery and United Dairy will continue their long-time supply contracts with the district.

Last year, employees enjoyed three months of ‘premium holidays’ on their portion of their health insurance. Mathews said the South Central Ohio Insurance Consortium can’t afford the premium holidays next year. Board members approved an increase in the district’s one-time payment of $1,000 per year to $2,000 for teachers and administrators, and from $525 to $1,050 for nonclassified staff. The increase is intended to offset the additional premium payments and adjustments in deductibles and co-pays.

In personnel matters, board members approved a technology teacher position for the elementary school and employed current curriculum supervisor Ken Dille as an assistant principal at the middle and high schools. He received a two year contract.

Due to increased student requests for foreign language instruction at the high school, Elana Gallagher’s contract was increased from 5/8’s to full-time.

Supplemental contracts were approved for:

• Jennifer Cooley – JV football and basketball cheerleading;

• Susan Steffen – 6th grade outdoor education; and

• Marcus Alford – 6th grade outdoor education.

Two summer camps were approved. A youth soccer camp for students in grades 4 -8 was approved for July 21-24. Band camp will be July 13-8 at Rio Grande University.

Race-to-the-Top coordinator Holly Lavender told board members that the curriculum revisions have been completed. Mathews said now the challenge is to implement the changes that are intended to more closely align curriculum with expectations.

“It’s been an interesting four years,” Mathews said of Race-tothe Top. “We’ve never worked harder on curriculum.”

“We need to get to the business of teaching it now,” Lavender added.

The co-students of the month were recognized. Daniel Burnside, now a graduate, is the son of Jeff and Ale Burnside. He is active in varsity soccer and track, band and FFA. He has been an FFA officer for the past two years. He plans to study law enforcement technology at Ohio University – Lancaster.

Jeremy Posey-Jone, now a junior, is the son of Jonathan Jones. He is active in varsity football and track. He hopes to attend Kent State University or the University of Akron to study accounting or marketing.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday July 14, at the Liberty Union Land Lab behind the elementary school. It will be Mathews’ last board meeting as superintendent.

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