Summer program gets big response

MINGO JUNCTION — The newly implemented summer feeding program at Indian Creek Schools has attracted a huge draw, which has surprised and delighted officials.

During Thursday’s regular school board session, Assistant Superintendent John Belt reported that more than 2,000 students had taken advantage of the Seamless Summer Option program within the first nine days. The district initiated the SSO through the Ohio Department of Education as a means of providing nutritious meals to children from low-income areas after the school year ended. The free program has provided breakfast and lunch at Indian Creek High School in Wintersville and Hills Elementary in Mingo Junction.

“We’re off to a really great start to getting nutritious meals to the youth of the district,” Belt said. “The summer feeding program has given 2,304 meals in nine days to youth in the district. District Food Service Director Eric White and I were blown away by the number of meals we’ve served.”

He said some of the meals feed children attending school programs such as Reading Rocks, while other youth who were not involved in activities have also been in attendance. Belt hopes the numbers indicate a need to the state and allow the program to continue in the future. For now, breakfast is available from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. with lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., but the youth must have their own transportation to the sites. Belt said it will not be offered July 3-7, but will resume the following week. The program runs at Hills until July 28 and at the high school until Aug. 25.

Superintendent T.C. Chappelear thanked Belt, White and the Children’s Hunger Alliance, which assisted with the program, for making it a success.

Indian Creek also began an in-school program targeting elementary-aged kids. The Breakfast in the Classroom program began in partnership with the CHA, which provided a $2,000 grant to the district to finance its implementation. The program allows students to eat in class so they don’t lose out on lesson time, and as a result officials saw a jump in activity. The program affected more than 900 students between Hills and Wintersville elementaries, and the goal was to increase participation in the breakfast program by 20 percent. However, leaders reported that participation in the school breakfast program jumped from 37 percent to 90 percent among the four classrooms involved, while WES indicated its four classes had upwards of 82 percent participating. That program is expected to expand in the coming school year.

In other business, the board renewed and extended an administrative contract for Indian Creek High School Assistant Principal Keith Swearingen, who received a three-year pact. Also renewed was a one-year teaching contract for Nicole Webster Grimm, which commences on July 1.

Officials accepted resignations from Doris Mallas, a sixth-grade teacher at Indian Creek Middle School who will retire on July 1, and bus driver John Bendle, who left after one year of service effective May 26. Meanwhile, classified and certified hires were named, including Bruce C. Eastham as bus driver effective June 15; Joseph Strohmeyer, physical education teacher at Wintersville Elementary under a one-year contract; Anthony Renzelli, sixth-grade social studies teacher at ICMS under a one-year contract; and Courtney Johnson, English/language arts teacher at ICMS under a one-year pact.

Extra-duty supplemental contracts were given to Megan Evans, ICHS SADD adviser, Fellowship of Christian Athletes adviser; and grades 9-10 adviser; Mary Jo DiPietro, ICMS grades 5-6 technology assistant; Jane Bennett, ICMS character education adviser; Sonda Vojvodich, ICHS Ohio Improvement Process and Mathematics Department chair; Ruth Rees, Hills mathematics assistant; Amanda Roach, Hills character education adviser; Ashley Turnbull, Hills Student Senate adviser; Diane Sogan, Hills lead teacher; Deborah Wheatley, Hills OIP; Joseph Dunlevy, ICHS athletic director; Thomas Mort, ICHS before- and after-school physical activities director; Ann Hardman, WES mathematics assistant; Barb Turner, ICHS Skills USA and academic competition adviser; Peggy Pyle, ICHS Social Studies Department chair; Brandon Pendleton, ICHS varsity wrestling head coach, science department chair and Environthon adviser; Mike Cottis, ICHS varsity baseball coach and ICMS guidance counselor; Sarah Houser, ICHS Student Council and junior class adviser; Jim Mort, ICHS varsity baseball assistant coach; ICHS intervention department chair; and Joyce Nichols, ICMS grades 7-8 technology assistant. Additionally, a supplemental personnel service contract was approved for Lori Orban as ICMS track coach.

The board approved classified substitutes in the following positions: Paula Arney, custodian, cafeteria and secretary; Michael Boilegh and Michael Styer, custodians; Randa Bright, cafeteria, secretary and paraprofessional; Justen Chappell, Austin Freshwater, Jared Harvey and Zachary Williams, summer custodians; Linda Frye, Brian Hibbits and Kevin Robinson, bus driver; and Lisa Wells, secretary.

Employees for the Reading Rocks summer program were approved. They are Claudia Barrett, Gina Giuliani, Megan Karas, Karen Lloyd, Amy Rusnak, Brittany Sperlazza, Rachel Stuart, Ashley Turnbull, Toni Voltz and substitute Jamie Pratt; cook/cashiers Tami Millhorn and Sarah Vanderwerff; aides Brenda Hyde and Orton Gillingham; and interventionist Phyllis Ferris.

In other business, the board:

¯ Approved OME-RESA/Southwestern Educational Purchasing Council 2016-17 bus bids from Cardinal Bus Sales and Service Inc., to purchase a 2017 Blue Bird special needs school bus and a Blue Bird 78-passenger bus totaling more than $191,000.

¯ Entered into an agreement with the Jefferson County Educational Service Center to provide special education services for fiscal year 2017.

¯ Approved a field trip for the ICMS grades 7-12 band students to Pittsburgh in February.

¯ Agreed to donate $300 for Alyssa Girga, a student at ICHS and Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, to attend the National Health Occupations Students of America Conference in Orlando, Fla.

¯ Set a special meeting for 7 a.m. on June 30 at the district office for year-end financial issues.

The next board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on July 20.

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