VWCS Assistant Superintendent Bill Clifton gives his report to the board of education. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent
The new school year, COVID-19 and masks, personnel, Eggerss Stadium and critical race theory were among the topics addressed during Wednesday’s Van Wert school board meeting.
Superintendent Mark Bagley said the current plan is for masks to be optional for all students and staff.
“People who want to wear masks are welcome to wear them and people who choose not to, that’s okay too right now,” Bagley told the board. “Could things change? Absolutely. We’re going to respond to things that come our way but right now we are trying to do things as normal as possible knowing that we may have to pivot and change some things.”
Bagley also noted the coronavirus vaccine was offered to staff members earlier this year along with encouragement to get the shot.
During his report to the board, Assistant Superintendent Bill Clifton said all district buildings appear to be in good shape.
“The custodial staff has been working diligently throughout the summer to make sure we are ready to go,” Clifton stated. “Outside grounds are what they’re concentrating on now and a lot of things are happening.”
He also said home sideline work is in progress at Eggerss Stadium, with more work scheduled for completion soon.
“We’ve basically taken out the old (sideline) artificial turf and we’ve leveled out the sideline and thanks to a donation we’ve been able to put down used artificial turf,” Clifton explained. “If you watch professional or major college football, they have a mesh material that they put on the sidelines. Normally it’s white or cream in color, but ours will be a red mesh that we’re putting on our sideline.”
Clifton went on to say that new state championship and state runner-up signage will go up once new windows and frames are installed in the press box. The signs are measured according to the windows and Clifton said work will begin next week and could be complete by the August 13 home scrimmage against Crestview.
Clifton went on to tell the board that new automated external defibrillators (AEDs) should be ordered by Friday and he said the district’s new bus should arrive by mid-September.
The board accepted nearly a dozen resignations, including Samantha Quatman and Ashley McElroy, fifth grade teachers; Libby Burkhart and Rachel John, kindergarten teachers; Katie Krieg, fourth grade teacher; Andrew Peel, first grade teacher; Alysha Caudill, preschool teacher; Laura Farris, bus paraprofessional and general cafeteria worker; Ashley Elston, Early Childhood Center paraprofessional; Demond Johnson, varsity assistant football coach, and Eric Hohman, freshman football coach.
“We have a lot of young staff and most of them have been going home to get married, so there has not been people leaving because of dissatisfaction with Van Wert, it’s more they’re younger and they’re going where their husband or fiance are in different locations,” Bagley said.
Board members approved a long list of hires, including William (Tre) Short, fifth grade teacher; Nicholas Pauff, fourth grade teacher; Renée Staas, third grade teacher; Megan Neuenschwander, Lydia Mendenhall and Marie Wilker, kindergarten teachers; Alexa Dunlap, preschool teacher; Tamara Sharp, Autumn Schlatter and Krista Conley, Early Childhood Center paraprofessionals; Halie Buggert, elementary paraprofessional; Adam Nygren, Goedde paraprofessional; Michelle Hipsley, head cook, Van Wert High School, and Laura Eikenbary, general cafeteria worker.
Many of those new employees will tour the buildings and Van Wert next Tuesday.
Hohman was hired as a varsity assistant football coach and Pauff as freshman football coach. Judy Krites and Cassie Priest were hired as volunteer assistant volleyball coaches, Morgan Hicks was hired as a middle school volunteer volleyball coach and Vicki Smith was approved as middle school volleyball coach.
The board also approved a list of over 100 supplemental contracts ranging from various advisors to the district leadership team.
The board also approved several other agenda items geared toward the 2021-2022 school year, including student and athletic handbooks, bus routes and shuttle schedules, student fees, cafeteria prices, a substitute staff list, and a waiver of physical education graduation requirements for approved circumstances.
Agreements with Midwest Regional Education Service Center (vision impaired services) and Van Wert Health (athletic training services) were given approval, along with administrative and other personnel salary schedules.
District resident Mark Pierce questioned if critical race theory will be taught in the Van Wert City Schools.
“These are theories and have never been taught in our schools, never been introduced, never been brought to me in any way, shape, or form as a building principal or superintendent,” Bagley responded. “It’s not part of the Ohio Revised Code, as far as curriculum, so it’s not in our curriculum.”
Board member Greg Blackmore informed the board that the grand opening of the Niswonger Peforming Arts Center Annex has been delayed and Dr. Rachel White said all five state championship signs are up in Van Wert, with two more possibly going up in Ohio City.
The board approved several routine financial items and Bagley called the recent passage of the Fair School Funding Plan a win for education, but he cautioned it’s a two-year process and he expressed concern about an expanded voucher program.
Board members approved several donations, including five for the cross country program: $722.26 from the Van Wert Athletic Booster Club; Van Wert Propane, $500; Travis and Jodi Knittle, $500; Larry Hoverman, $50 and Pak-A-Sak, $50. The board also accepted a $1,200 donation from Wallace Plumbing for the wrestling program and $32,221.50 from the Van Wert County Foundation’s Klein Fund.
The next regular meeting of the Van Wert City Schools Board of Education will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 25, in the First Federal Lecture Hall at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.
Original article courtesy of The VW Independent