Harkness elected BOE president

BRIDGEPORT – A new year means a new board of education president in the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District.

Jodi Harkness was unanimously selected to the position by the other four members of the panel during Wednesday night’s re-organizational meeting in the administration building.

She was nominated by Roger Stewart, who was then unanimously elected vice president by his fellow board members after being nominated by Harkness. Both were sworn-in by treasurer Cheryl Pritts.

Several matters were discussed during the lengthy 2-hour session, with the highlight being the overwhelming approval of the district’s Crisis Plan.

“A lot of work went into creating this plan,” Downing explained to the board and those in attendance. “I think we’ve got a really good plan, but I hope we never need to use it.”

Downing will formally present the plan to the district staff members during a 2-hour in-service meeting Monday morning. Then, on Jan. 28, there will also be a 2-hour delay and members of the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department will be at the school to go over the plan with staff members and administration.

“This is to just give them some feedback,” Downing said of the second meeting. “That way, by the time the staff receives the plan and the second meeting comes around, the staff members will have had plenty of time to review the plan and ask any questions.”

Also discussed was the lighting project at Bill Jobko Stadium, which has drawn some questions from the public concerning when the funding is coming from.

“I’ve heard concerns from a few residents who have brought the question up,” board member Jerry Moore said.

Pritts quickly explained that funding for the project, about $330,000, is coming from the permanent improvement fund yearly and not the general fund, which was granted to the district several years ago.

Moore said some people are under the impression that the money could have been spent in different areas, such as technology upgrades and such.

“There is no way permanent improvement money can be spent on operations,” she noted.

The lighting project was approved during the December board meeting.

“This has been a long-debated issue,” said Don Cash, who served as board president last year. “It had to be done sooner or later. This board could’ve put it off for another board down the road, but we knew it had to be done.”

Cash said the current lights are at least 35 years old.

Stewart agreed with Cash’s thinking.

“We, as a board, knew the lights had to be upgraded. It was something that had to be taken care of.”

In other news, the board unanimously passed the following matters:

  • the transfer of Doug Tush to elementary physical education teacher from elementary special education teacher, effective next school year;
  • the hiring of Mike Muklewicz as assistant baseball coach, and the hiring of Mike McGrath and Don Cash as volunteer baseball coaches;
  • the hiring of Donald Haggerty as a classified substitute bus driver, retroactive to Dec. 20, 2012;
  • the student/staff calendar for the 2013-14 school year;
  • the possible hiring of a School Resource Officer (a Belmont County Deputy Sheriff) for the remainder of the school year, and a resolution placing a 1-mill levy on the next ballot to fund the position.

The panel was split on one issue. It voted 3-2 in approving a 1-year contract with Johnson Control.

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com