UL board honors students, staff

BELMONT-At its October board of education meeting, Union Local recognized more exemplary students, teachers and staff.

Five students earned citizenship awards: Paige Briggs, 4th grade, a Taekwondo champion and black belt; Megan Garrison, 5th grade, a 4H student; Kyle Frazier, Briana Bumgardner and Jacqueline Brandon, all in 6th grade, recognized for their friendship and assistance to other students.

Four high school students achieved outstanding ACT scores. The national ACT cumulative average is 20.9 and Ohio’s average is 21.8, according to www.act.org. A perfect score is 36, and these students earned scores of 29 and above: Cody Tipton, Cori Medley, Abby Collins and Kirsty Cole.

Two teachers and two kitchen staff were identified for their “above and beyond” attitudes. Superintendent Doug Thoburn named elementary school teacher Ron Bober and secondary schools teacher Tom Mehl as mentors who help students like those named above reach high goals. In the kitchen, Thoburn says that Lydia Rutter and Cindy Hanson work hard and help students enjoy the cafeteria experience.

Operations Manager Bill West gave board members a status report on the maintenance, food service and transportation departments. Maintenance workers have fixed the wet area of the football field, repaired the bleachers, replaced playground equipment parts and installed new required signage and fire extinguishers in response to a recent fire inspection. The football field light pole hit by lightning has been repaired and has five new lights.

On the to-do list are recoating the elementary school building with sealant and purchasing a new snow plow vehicle. The current plow needs a fuel pump, and the body and frame are deteriorating. Treasurer Janet Hissrich informed the board that purchasing a new plow should be possible before December.

Participation and revenue are up in the cafeterias of all three schools according to the August and September claims. The elementary school was of special concern because of the switch to an in-house food service. However, comparative numbers to last school year show an increase of 310 breakfasts served and an increase of 1,364 lunches served so far.

“During the past four years we’ve developed a really good team in food service,” noted West. “People don’t know how the federal food and lunch regulations make this so difficult. Everyone works hard and does a tremendous job. I’m very grateful to Kathy Fowkes and the rest of the food service staff.”

In transportation, this year Union Local runs 13 regular bus routes, driving a total of 1,437 miles and carrying 1,798 students daily. There are also two after school program buses running variable routes Monday through Thursday. West says that emission standards have created an issue with running diesel fuel, and the department will need to purchase fuel additives to avoid mechanical problems.

Thoburn added that Union Local is one of the districts in a county-wide initiative applying for a Clean Fuels Ohio grant. Should the grant be awarded it could mean up to 10 new buses for Union Local, all of which will use alternative fuels and be valued at $960,000.

High school teacher Joan Lepic presented information on a European trip geared toward students by a certified educational tour company. The proposal by Lepic and Education First Tours will be the first international trip available to district students in several years and will include travel to London, Paris, Florence and Rome, education on travel safety, and it meets several student goals. The trip, tentatively scheduled to begin May 27, 2014, is open to high school students from Union Local or other districts meeting behavioral criteria and to adults who can meet background check qualifications. The student price of $3,500 and adult price of $3,827 include airfare, breakfasts, dinners, hotels, transportation in Europe and entrance fees to museums, etc. Travelers must purchase their own passports and lunches.

Under committee reports, board member Ed Stenger reported that the Labor Relations committee is conducting ongoing negotiations with the teachers union and federal mediator. He said that they “are going as well as can be expected” and commended the parties involved for their professionalism.

An Athletic Committee meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 7 with the time to be determined.

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

Valenti can be reached at gvalenti@timesleaderonline.com.