UL board accentuates positives

BELMONT-“I think it’s important to recognize the positives, when so much people hear about schools is negative,” began Union Local Superintendent Doug Thoburn. At Thursday night’s board of education meeting Thoburn and board members recognized 12 students and three staff members for their exemplary performances.

On the Ohio Achievement Tests Thoburn says the goal score for students is 500 on individual tests. Twelve Union Local students scored 500 or above on their tests. Those students are Clarissa Westfall (508) and Liam Vinskovich (530) for 4th grade Mathematics; Nicholas McMahon (503) for 5th grade Mathematics; Sutherlynd Butler (526,) Emilee Robb (526,) Alison Loase (511,) Anastasia Hezoucky (501) and Zachary Hull (526) for 6th grade Mathematics; Emilee Robb (503) for 6th grade Reading; Justin Hamilton (507) for 7th grade Mathematics; Shayla Bouch (517) for 8th grade Reading; Hannah Smith (507) and John Howell (500) for 10th grade Social Studies.

Thoburn introduced a monthly staff recognition program at the meeting starting with Jennifer Wooding, a 4th grade Intervention Specialist. In her reading program last year, 100 percent of her students were scored “proficient” or better. Linda Ellis, a middle school teacher, also received a certificate for her efforts. Roger Reynolds was the third recipient. Thanks to his work in the transportation department, 100 percent of the buses passed their inspections the first time.

Treasurer Janet Hissrich presented more information on generating revenue for the district.

“The only way to increase revenue is going to the voters,” Hissrich says. “The fairest way to do this is the income tax.” She explained that the tax needs to be voter approved and is paid by those living within the school district. The tax is figured on earned income, including wages, salaries, pensions and farm or self-employed income. Social Security benefits are not taxable, so seniors and property owners will not be burdened.

Renters who live in the Union Local district will be taxed, however, even if they work somewhere else. There are also a variety of options in setting the tax up such as making it a continuing tax or giving it an expiration date.

Board president Terry Puperi added, “There will be a lot of information coming to the public over the next few months. We want everyone to have all the facts-the same facts.”

Steps toward implementing the tax begin with a “Resolution of Necessity” explaining the tax and reasons for it that is sent to the tax commissioner. The tax commissioner has 10 days to review and approve the tax proposal, and the issue has to be at the County Board of Elections 90 days before the election and can only go on the ballot twice in a calendar year. Should the tax be passed in 2014, it will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, and the district will begin to see the results by April 2015.

Thoburn has asked all department heads and administrators for five-year plans to gauge possible capital improvements and needs and determine funding projections.

Ben Porter, special education supervisor, says he is looking forward to the five-year planning during an overview of his program. He added that Union Local is “on the right track” by emphasizing the importance of early learning, and they will continue to utilize available data and comply and keep up with the required paperwork. Board member Dean Lancaster praised Porter and his staff for their work with special needs students.

Board members approved contracts with Guard Dog Security to provide services during the school day and at after school events. One officer will be stationed at the elementary school and one at the middle and high school complex.

“We have to provide a safe environment for our students,” Lancaster said. “We have new hotels, a truck stop and I-70 right here. People have access to this campus. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Thoburn made it clear that the added service is not a discipline measure, but an increase in “safety and security of our staff and students. This is a “proactive” step, he noted, given the development around the area.

Board members also approved two donations: a piano and organ from Larry Taylor and books for the high school library from James Wise, a 1961 Union Local graduate.

Union Local school board meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. in the high school library.

Valenti can be reached at gvalenti@timesleaderonline.com.