People Feeling Secure at Union Local

The Union Local Board of Education meets in the middle school library on Thursday evening. Taking part in the session, from left, are student member Luke Snyder, board members Koel Davia and Ed Stenger, Treasurer Janet Hissrich, board member Terry Puperi, Superintendent Ben Porter and board member Dan Lucas. T-L Photo/JENNIFER COMPSTON-STROUGH

MORRISTOWN — New security measures implemented in the Union Local School District this year are working well, board of education member Koel Davia said Thursday.

The UL campus was buzzing with activity throughout the evening. The board held its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. in the middle school library, leaving the auditorium available for a public meeting regarding mineral rights and the natural gas and oil industry hosted by Emens & Wolper Law Firm. In addition, parent-teacher conferences attracted a steady flow of attendees.

As the board heard committee reports, Davia spoke about Safety & School Health. He said he had talked with many stakeholders about the new security measures in place this year and had heard a great deal of positive feedback.

“I have talked with staff, students and parents, and everyone is completely overjoyed with the new security staff we hired,” Davia said.

Jason Greenwood, who is retired from a law enforcement career with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, heads up the new security staff that serves all three of the district’s classroom buildings. Superintendent Ben Porter previously explained that these employees are not actually school resource officers, since they are not active members of law enforcement; instead, they are civilians who are authorized to be armed while on duty in the schools.

Metal detectors installed this fall at entrances used by staff, students and visitors now supply additional campus security. Davia commended the administrators in the elementary, middle and high school buildings for developing procedures that allow people to pass through the metal detectors as the enter the schools without causing delay or confusion.

“It’s going well,” he added. “They’re doing a great job.”

Board member Dan Lucas spoke on behalf of the Athletic Committee, saying members decided not to change baseball and softball ticket prices in the coming season. He also said there are some concerns about the condition of athletic facilities, including the track and gymnasiums. Other than maintenance practices, though, he did not cite specific issues.

The board also approved several of Porter’s recommendations on Thursday. Among those actions were:

∫ Hiring Justin Jefferies as junior varsity wrestling coach and Sarah McGary as a substitute nurse;

∫ Permitting use of the elementary school cafeteria for a Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 14. The JetAdventure club will host the event, and Porter said members’ families would attend;

∫ Purchasing “prevention services” for an elementary after-school program at a total cost of $2,981;

∫ Contracting with John Bertram to provide orientation and mobility services for visually impaired students at a cost of $90 per hour for instructional, consultative or evaluation services or $45 per hour for indirect services, such as attending meetings and writing reports;

∫ Continuing the AESOP Service from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, at a cost of $1,771.04. AESOP is a service that helps manage staff absences by allowing them to report in to an automated system that will automatically locate a substitute to fill their position that day.

In addition, the board approved 42 policy changes on Porter’s recommendation. Highlights include a change to the policy regarding gifted and accelerated students and to the district’s bullying policy.

Porter said gifted or advanced students will now be able to participate in accelerated studies by subject, rather than by an entire grade level. He added that the new bullying policy adds steps to help ensure all allegations of bullying are investigated thoroughly. He said new verification requirements will also help staff members track each other’s actions as they handle allegations of bullying.

Board members Davia, Lucas, Terry Puperi, and Ed Stenger, as well as student member Luke Snyder, were all present for the meeting, as were Porter, Treasurer Janet Hissrich and the district’s attorney, Gary Smith. Board member Billy Porter was absent.

The meeting concluded with an executive session to discuss employment, to confer with an attorney, to review contract negotiations with employees, and to discuss details of security arrangements and emergency response protocols. No action was to be taken following the closed-door portion of the meeting.