Security and facilities on UL agenda

T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK Union Local School District Treasurer Janet Hissrich swore in Dan Lucas as president of the board Thursday. The board discussed security and facility improvement.

BELMONT — Security and facility improvement measures were under discussion at Union Local Thursday, but Union Local Superintendent Ben Porter began the meeting by recognizing January as School Board Appreciation Month.

“The board we have here at Union Local is a great board that’s truly invested in the betterment of our students. They do their job by questioning what we do, which you’re supposed to do, but you allow us do our job,” he said. “That is greatly appreciated.”

In the subject of safety, the district is welcoming a new member of the security team. The board approved the employment of Preston Eberhart for school security on an as-needed basis at the rate of $85 per day for the 2018-2019 school year. Board member Billy Porter added that Eberhart has a military background and is from the area. He said Eberhart has passed all necessary training and he is a licensed EMT. He said the district has not yet given approval for Eberhart to be armed on school grounds.

“We’re not going to go that route yet, with him being armed,” Porter said.

In other security matters, Porter said a major safety drill at the elementary school will be held Jan. 25. It will be held on an in-service day so the young pupils will not be present.

“But it’ll be an opportunity for our staff, EMS and police to experience and do such an activity in the elementary building. It’ll be a fairly large-scale drill with the EMS, sheriff, probably the highway patrol,” he said, adding that the district staff will not know beforehand of the type of emergency that will be simulated. “We’ll see how we react to the situation and we’ll debrief after that.”

Also, the board approved an amendment to the master agreement between the district and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees to increase all bargaining unit members’ salaries by 60 cents and 20 cents across the board, effective July 1, 2018 and 2019 respectively. The contract will be re-opened for negotiation in 2020.

The board approved an agreement between the district and Educational Systems Solutions, LLC for $7,200 for a three-day analysis of the district as part of the ongoing comprehensive facilities plan.

“This is a very thorough diagnostic evaluation of the district. On the educational side of things, it’s a three-day data-driven process that should really help us pinpoint areas of weakness throughout the district. Areas of strength as well that we can focus on our plan, going forward,” Porter said. “(The analyst) is going to be talking to staff. He’s going to be talking to students. He’s going to be talking to family members…The more information we gather, the better off we’re going to be.”

Also, board member Terry Puperi suggested obtaining a smaller bus for limited transportation purposes and extracurricular activities.

“(Around 2:30 p.m.) I saw two busses go by with less than five and seven kids in them, going home,” Puperi said, adding that there are similar issues with extracurricular activities. “Sometimes (students participating to extracurricular events) just drive themselves…That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. We’re liable for those kids if they’re going to a Union Local event…We should be able to provide transportation for them.”

Porter added that due to the terrain, some of the bus routes do not have a high number of student passengers.

Puperi said he would explore costs and options.

During the brief reorganizational meeting prior to the regular meeting, Dan Lucas was named president of the board and sworn in, with Koel Davia named vice president.

The full board was in attendance.