The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jan. 15, 2021

VWCS bd. reorganizes; hears COVID update

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert City Board of Education members took care of a number of housekeeping items during their reorganizational meeting, including electing new officers and setting meeting dates and times, while also being honored by the district administration and various schools as part of School Board Recognition Month.

Van Wert City Board of Education member Greg Blackmore tries on the “superhero” mask he received in honor of School Board Recognition Month. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Board President Anthony Adams was re-elected to that position, while Dr. Rachel White was selected as board vice president. Board meeting times remained the fourth Wednesday of the month, starting at 5 p.m., in the First Federal Lecture Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

The board also approved the 2022 tax budget, following a public hearing, and re-authorized the treasurer, superintendent, athletic director, and food services director to perform a list of functions needed to operate the district when the board was not in session.

Superintendent Mark Bagley and the various building principals also provided recognition — and some even brought gifts, including “superhero” masks — to honor board members during their special month.

Adams returned the admiration: “You make us feel special all year long with the wonderful job you do,” he told the school representatives.

During its regular January meeting, the board heard presentations from Ruth Ann Dowler, district special services coordinator, related to curriculum and instruction within her purview, as well as representatives from the three official support groups for Van Wert City Schools: Van Wert High School Athletic Boosters Inc., VWHS Band Parents Association Inc., and Van Wert Elementary PTO, who talked about what their groups do to support the district. 

During his report, Bagley noted that, thankfully, the district has not seen an expected big increase in coronavirus cases following the holiday break, but also added that “COVID-19 rules the day right now” when it comes to planning and instruction within the district. The superintendent also noted that new quarantine guidelines should also help in-class attendance, since it allows more students to attend class, with mask restrictions. That decreases current student quarantines from 150 to 50, he said.

Bagley also talked about legislation adopted by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by the governor — Substitute House Bill 409 — that allows school districts to use substitute teachers who do not hold a post-secondary degree, as long as requirements to successfully complete a criminal background check and provide evidence of a non-renewable temporary substitute teaching license issued by the Ohio Department of Education are met.

The board approved a resolution later in the meeting authorizing the district to expand its employment of substitutes using requirements in HB 409, if necessary.

During his report, Bagley also noted the two-day remote learning online classroom sessions held prior to the Christmas-New Year holiday went much better than remote learning sessions conducted back in March 2020. 

“There was much better attendance; it was much more successful,” the superintendent said, while also adding that there was not much advance notice prior to the March remote learning sessions.

Bagley also had an emotional moment at the end of his report when he thanked board members and others in the community for their support following the unexpected death of his father, Ron Bagley.

Assistant Superintendent Bill Clifton reported on the Moderna vaccine rollout that begins February 5 in the schools, noting that the plan he and Bagley had put together will provide as much information as possible to school staff members so they can make informed choices on whether they want to be inoculated. Clifton also said efforts will also be made to make sure the district has an accurate head count so that no vaccine doses go unused.

“What we want to do is provide as much education as we can, without overwhelming them,” he added.

Clifton also said that, because second doses often result in more physical issues, efforts will be made to keep teachers from having to go right back to the classroom after receiving the second shot.

“There’s a little back of compassion built into the schedule,” the assistant superintendent said.

Clifton also talked about the status of the lighting replacement project through Energy Optimizers whose completion has been stalled for some time. The assistant superintendent said a four-member Energy Optimizers team was in the district recently to do a walk-through of all the buildings and talk about increasing efforts to get the project completed. Installers are expected to be in this Saturday to install all the lighting in the Saltzgaber Music Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio — the last major project that needs to be done.

Energy Optimizers also is compiling a catalog of all the various lights and fixtures installed so that, if any lights need replaced over the next 10 years, custodians will know the proper light and fixture needed.

In other action, the board:

  • Accepted the resignation of Scott Cunningham, custodial-maintenance worker, effective January 4, and Veronica Cuevas, Early Childhood Center secretary, effective February 22.
  • Accepted the resignations, due to retirement, of Sue Lichtle, elementary school paraprofessional, and Brad Scheidt, high school-middle school head custodian, both effective the end of the school year.
  • Approved two then-and-now certificates: $47,178 for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 2021 premium and $16,250 for the NOVA license for grades 3-12.
  • Acknowledged the following donations: Van Wert County Foundation, $2,000 to the VWHS Robotics program and $3,000 to the Middle School Robotics program; Robert and Dawn Sloan, $100 to the Masque and Gavel; Family, Career & Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), $1,000 to district FCCLA chapter; Van Wert Health, $2,500 for the purchase of external defibrillators in the district.
  • Approved the following supplemental contracts for the 2020-21 school year: Greg Steinecker, head softball coach; Sean Kennedy, varsity assistant softball coach; Bill Steinecker and Scott Bigham, half-time JV softball coaches; Brian Bollenbacher, JV softball volunteer coach; Alex Schmidt, head boys’ tennis coach; Charlie Witten, head baseball coach; Eric Putman, varsity assistant baseball coach; Jim Werts, JV baseball coach; Cole Harting, freshman baseball coach; Jeremy Kitson, volunteer baseball coach; Mark Collins, head boys’ track coach; Nate Hoverman, head girls’ track coach; Rachel White, volunteer assistant track coach; Hannah Phlipot, high school assistant track coach; Ben Laudick and Kim Laudick, half-time high school assistant track coaches; and Kerry Koontz, Steve Sealscott and Bryce Crea, middle school track coaches.
  • Accepted the resignation of Hugh Saunier from his supplemental half-time contract as school musical assistant director and amended the half-time supplemental contract of Matt Saunier to full-time school musical assistant director.
  • Learned the following teachers are being advanced on the district salary schedule, due to academic achievements: Frankie Bowen, master’s plus 15 hours to master’s plus 30 hours; Tricia Hughes, bachelor’s plus 150 hours to master’s; Brooke Lehman, bachelor’s to bachelor’s plus 10 hours; Andrea Mead, bachelor’s plus 150 hours to master’s; and Katie Krieg, master’s to master’s plus 15 hours.
  • Acknowledge receipt of a Community Reinvestment Act application from Fisher & Neel LLC, Warren Straley, for property at 250 Fisher Ave./470 Neel Ave. in. Van Wert.
  • Went into executive session to discuss employment of personnel, with no action taken afterwards.

The next meeting of the Van Wert City Board of Education will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, February 24, in the First Federal Lecture Hall of the NPAC.

POSTED: 01/14/21 at 12:58 am. FILED UNDER: News