BELMONT-Presented with two options for anonymous anti-bullying and anti-harassment call-in systems, the Union Local Board of Eductaion decided to adopt one that was not only less expensive, but gives the district more control over a situation.
According to the state's new Logan Act, school districts are strongly encouraged to take responsibility for providing vehicles for anonymous bullying complaints, reports of harassment and concerns about suicide or violence.
Union Local has been weighing pros and cons of two different services for several months. A representative from Security Voice explained their "Safe School Helpline," manned by licensed counselors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The counselors assign case numbers to the calls, and the company acts as a liaison between the caller and school to maintain the caller's anonymity. They charge a flat rate per student, amounting to $1,100 for Union Local.
Superintendent H. Kirk Glasgow provided information on the TRZ "School Hotline Service" through OMERESA. Callers can leave information about a situation without leaving identification. A designated school official will be notified of the call right away and can determine proper action. This service will cost the district $250 and will put the district in compliance with the Logan Act. Board members were wary of the need for a full counseling service and a "middle man" agency, especially for the expense and level of incidents with which the schools are dealing.
After some public discussion and an executive session, board members voted in favor of hiring Vaughn Butler for the 2012-13 varsity assistant co-football coach and boys head basketball coach. Public discussion involved an anonymous letter with complaints about Butler sent to all the board members. The board decided that without a signature on the letter they were not able to pursue the matter in depth and were comfortable assigning the supplemental contracts to Butler.
Board member Todd Kildow said he wouldn't listen to unsigned letters about anyone, adding, "If you believe something, stand up and say it." Terry Puperi, fellow board member, agreed saying, "If you don't sign a letter like this, it has no weight."
Kildow was also upset about recent incidents of insubordination and disrespect that he has witnessed. Directing comments to school faculty and staff, though he noted that the offenders he'd seen were not present at the meeting, he said, "The superintendent is your boss. The principals are your bosses. People need to recognize what respect means. One person I saw should be reprimanded for her actions."
In a board discussion item, Kildow also wanted to educate the public about school board members' roles. Their key duties include setting district policy, hiring and working closely with the superintendent and treasurer, setting goals, establishing budgets, long-range planning, public relations and determining student services, all in the best interest of the school district within legal bounds. He said what the board does not do is manage day-to-day operations of the schools or hire and evaluate faculty and staff outside of the superintendent and treasurer.
Members voted to accept the resignation of middle school Principal Jayme Yonak effective July 31. Yonak has taken a position with the Educational Service Center and will work on curriculum with the Bellaire and Union Local districts. The board has hired Ben Porter as the new middle school principal. In addition, they approved Kevin Lucas and Jennifer Wooding as testing coordinators for the high school and elementary school, respectively.
The following supplemental contracts have been approved for the 2012-13 school year: Sarah Dewalt, co-band auxiliary advisor; April Linard, marching band director; Chris Tripp, assistant band director; Kaytlyn Fisher, seventh grade volleyball coach. The board approved the recall of Sally McDiffitt to a first grade teacher position and accepted the resignation of Lu Anne Barbina, speech language pathologist, effective August 1.
Board members wish to thank the following donors for their contributions to the lawn flag project: Carol Fraley, labor; Absolute Concrete, five yards of concrete; Larol Supply, underlayment and reflective material for the stars; Flushing Mini-Storage (David and Grace Jones,) $500; Anonymous, $300; Bruce and Leslie Stiles, $20; Robert and Jennifer Schmitt, $100; Martha Glasgow, $100; Robert and Rebecca Mills, $50; Terry and Helen Puperi, $50.
The board passed a resolution authorizing Treasurer Janet Hissrich to seek sealed bids for the renovation of the track facility.
The Union Local Board of Education meets the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. in the high school library. Meetings are also broadcast and available for viewing on www.ulschools.com.
Valenti can be reached at email@example.com.