UL achievements highlighted

BELMONT — Student and district achievements were agenda topics at Thursday’s Union Local Board of Education meeting.

Student Sarah Gallovich presented Mark Cisar, athletic director, with a bowling pin signed by the girls’ bowling team. The team has a 13-1 season and was the first OVAC team to head to the sectionals. She said the team is looking forward to participating in a Pepsi tournament in May and heading to state competition in June. Gallovich and Cisar praised Coach Katie Fischerkeller for her time, dedication and mentoring. The bowling pin will be placed in a Union Local display case.

Eighth grader Justin Hamilton received a certificate of recognition from Superintendent H. Kirk Glasgow on behalf of the district. Hamilton won the Belmont County Spelling Bee on Feb. 28 and will compete in the national bee in Washington, D.C. Hamilton thanked his coaches and said he is “ready for Washington.”

Glasgow had more good news for the board regarding funding. Union Local uses services offered by the Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities and has been awarded grants from the BCBDD program in the past. At the last school superintendents’ meeting the BCBDD announced a new program that will allow them to provide $100,000 each to seven public school districts and the joint vocational school. Glasgow said that the districts may see the funds in this fiscal year.

Union Local’s special education program has cleared a state audit on its first round after implementing a corrective action plan (CAP) in October 2012. The state performed an on-site visit in November 2011, examined pre-school and school age records and sent back recommendations. Union Local submitted the CAP in May 2012, which was approved in October.

Ben Porter, special education coordinator, credits the specialized teachers and professionals who work with 225 Union Local students.

Board president Terry Puperi noted that a meeting with the State Auditor’s office indicated that the district is showing promise financially. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” Puperi says. “But we’re heading in the right direction.”

The financial report presented by Treasurer Janet Hissrich showed a $380,000 overall improvement in February 2013 over February 2012.

Praise for Union Local’s administrative team came from board member Dean Lancaster regarding buildings and grounds issues. “The principals are doing a great job, and Bill West [operations manager] is doing a great job given what they have.”

Members did approve the purchase of a security camera system from Mid-Ohio Valley Integrated Systems. A total of eight dome-style cameras will be installed inside the three schools. Bill West says that the system will allow for expansion and provides the district with good options for security. The $16,300 cameras will be paid for with Title VI-R funds, a grant for rural and low-income school districts.

The board passed a resolution formally opposing Ohio State House Bill 59 allowing private and parochial school tuition vouchers to be used for kindergarten by families with incomes up to 200 percent of the poverty level. These vouchers would also be granted without regard to the students’ assigned public schools’ academic performance record, meaning that even schools with high ratings would be subject to losing students. In past programs vouchers were offered to children whose local public schools had poor ratings.

In addition, the resolution states: “the operation of the proposed programs would effectively reduce funds from the already financially beleaguered local public school districts, resulting in fewer resources for public education, which is a direct violation of Article 6, paragraph 02 of the Ohio Constitution.” Copies of the resolution will be sent to Governor John Kasich and members of the Ohio General Assembly.

The Union Local school board meets the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. in the high school library.

Valenti can be reached at gvalenti@timesleaderonline.com.