BELMONT-At Thursday night's meeting, the Union Local Board of Education got an overview of a new anti-bullying program for all three schools. "Think Before You Speak" is an interactive and informational curriculum for K-12 that encourages children to consider their words and actions towards others and promotes a positive school environment.
Lori Kovacs, a parent and volunteer with Union Local, is president of the non-profit administering and coordinating the program. "Think" is an acronym children can use in a conflict, asking themselves if what they're saying is "true, helpful, inspiring, necessary or kind."
October is "Bullying Prevention Month," and spokesperson Kylie Morgan, a 17 year old singer voted "Who New to Watch" by the Country Music Association, will be visiting the school for a concert and assembly on Oct. 9 and 10.
LORI KOVACS, standing, a Union Local parent and volunteer, presents her new program to the board of education. The anti-bullying program is getting ready for a concert and Unity Day in October.
Kovacs says that she has sold 200 "Unity Day" t-shirts and that 20 elementary school students signed up for the "Be a Buddy, not a Bully" Club on the first day. For information on the curriculum, visit www.antibullyingprograms.org.
Bill West, director of Support Services for Union Local, updated board members on a couple of operations issues. The schools are trying to adapt to new food service guidelines mandated by the state. All menus must be submitted for approval, and there are "a lot of changes" according to West.
Meals must meet calorie restrictions, percentages of weekly nutritional requirements and fill color chart quotas. The service providing meals for the elementary school "is on top of it," he says, but the middle school and high school menus are being fine-tuned. Participation in the meal program has dropped because students aren't happy with foods available to meet the state guidelines. Food service funding is dependent on participation.
The transportation department is experiencing a shortage of drivers. West says that people have applied, but are not able to come up with expenses for state required tests for a school bus CDL. These include a pre-service class, a physical, background checks, a drug test and road test with a three-week waiting period-a total of $316. Currently part of the expenses will be reimbursed after certain time increments.
"I feel like the state throws out all of these hoops for us to jump through," adds West. One of those includes making each district re-certify drivers who have current certification in another district.
The board agreed to explore ways to provide full reimbursement for the CDL-related fees to assist those looking for work.
Superintendent Kirk Glasgow distributed another state recommendation that is being pushed through county health departments for implementation. This is a 100 percent "Tobacco Free Campus Policy." Were the school to adopt the policy, there would be no smoking allowed anywhere on school grounds including outside during sports events, at football games and in staff and faculty vehicles.
"This would be a huge change from what we have now," Glasgow explains. "I have some questions on it. Who's going to police this? It will go to the policy committee for review."
Treasurer Janet Hissrich reported that the school paid bills totaling $1,462,153.07 in August and that cash-wise, the account balances saw a $90,000 increase in August 2012 over the August 2011 totals. She presented the permanent appropriations for fiscal year 2013 as $14,984,526.49.
Among supplies and equipment that the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant will provide this year, is an online elective and test preparation program by Plato, Inc. Approved by the board for $6,780, the program will help students with entrance exams like ACT and SAT, or the GED test. Elective courses will include digital photography and vocational agriculture.
The following supplemental contracts were approved by board members: Ron Bober, middle school spelling bee coordinator; Christine Smith, elementary school spelling bee coordinator; Rhonda Wilson, freshman class advisor and senior class advisor; Amie Sketel and Tracie Yereb co-sophomore class advisors; Josef Meholovitch, ROE advisor; Melissa Steadman, middle school student council advisor; Jordan Barbina, 7th grade football coach; Robert Chilson, junior high wrestling coach; Bradon Smith, co-assistant band director.
Union Local board of education meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. in the high school library. They are also broadcast and available on the district website, www.ulschools.com.
Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.