Board welcomes student members

BELMONT — Members of the Union Local School District Board of Education welcomed two high school juniors Thursday who joined the board at the table as non-voting members.

Ashley Stewart and Saraina Wise were sworn in as student board members at Thursday’s meeting. The two will serve as student ambassadors to the school board, allowing both students and members to communicate with each other more effectively.

Although the two are unable to vote on issues and cannot attend executive sessions, they still are able to offer their opinion on the issues, giving a voice to concerns that they student body might wish to bring to the attention of board members. The two are excited to take part in the meetings and learn more about the workings of the district.

“I’m really excited. I really enjoy government,” Wise said, adding that she recently participated in the village of Belmont’s “Mayor for a Day” program. “It’s great to have our own input on stuff.”

The board then heard from members of the public who wished to address the board, starting with Sherri McElroy, the current president of the band boosters. McElroy said the concession stand used by the band, football players and other organizations has a severe mouse problem. McElroy said the rodents had strewn droppings all over the building, creating a health hazard.

McElroy added that last week, the track boosters had cleaned the building up a little, noting otherwise the problem would be “much worse.” She asked the board to look into solving the problem over the summer to make the building sanitary for serving food.

Board members also listened to Alan Bretz, vice president of the band boosters, as he spoke about a proposal that would allow any student organization to utilize the concession stand to raise funds. Bretz pointed out that the stand presents “any number” of options for organizations to raise funds for their group, by holding events and selling food through the concession stand.

Board members informed Bretz they would consider the idea, and direct him through the proper channels to make the idea a reality if it is deemed viable.

Members of the board also took time to discuss the district’s vandalism policy, including possible punishments. The discussion was inspired by a recent event in which 75 school bus tires were flattened, forcing school to be canceled that day. Board President Ed Stenger said the event was believed to be a senior prank — although one the board didn’t find funny.

Stenger said the prank had the potential to threaten the lives of students and drivers, and will cost taxpayers money to rectify the situation. The board agreed the district needs to enforce its policy more strictly, including a rule that no one should be on school property after 10 p.m.

Stenger said officials believe they know who is responsible, and they “have a pretty good idea” of what the punishment will be, but did not elaborate further.

The board spent more than an hour in executive session to discuss personnel, returning with no action taken. They approved the treasurer’s report and superintendent’s report, including accepting the resignation of several employees, approving Local Professional Development Committee stipends totaling $7,000, and employing athletic supplemental personnel for the upcoming school year.

The board also approved a number of substitute teachers for the 2017-18 school year.

The Union Local School District meets monthly at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month in the middle school auditorium.