Indian Creek BOE discusses safety

MINGO JUNCTION — School safety topped discussion at a recent Indian Creek Local school board meeting.

Leaders briefly touched on the security issue earlier this month and that led law enforcement to be placed at district schools, although the matter turned out to be unsubstantiated.

Superintendent T.C. Chappelear recognized the Wintersville Police Department for its assistance in ensuring the safety of faculty, staff and students and said safety forces were equally appreciative for the cooperation.

“Wintersville Police Chief Art Fowler commended the high school, Wintersville Elementary staff and Mr. Belt for dealing with the situation,” Chappelear added. “Everybody stayed calm and made sure the kids were taken care of.”

Karen Lloyd, president of the Indian Creek Education Association, read a statement from the Ohio Education Association against a recent suggestion for teachers to be armed following the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month.

Lloyd said the OEA and its members do not approve of the idea, and she shared comments from association officials.

“We believe that teachers should not be asked to serve a dual role as educators and as school safety personnel armed with weapons,” she began. “This is consistent with the views of the law enforcement community that putting guns in the hands of school employees is not the answer to improving school safety. When law enforcement officers respond to a school shooting, they can’t readily determine who is a ‘good guy’ with a gun and who isn’t.

“In any event, if school districts want to consider having their employees carry guns, it must be done in consultation with teachers and education support personnel,” she continued. “This will ensure that those who have an intimate understanding of daily school routines and the students they serve are heard. We also believe that parents, administrators and local law enforcement have a role to play in determining the best means for ensuring safe and orderly school environments.”

OEA leaders urged appropriate mental health services be provided for students as part of any program to prevent school violence and called on elected officials to make sure adequate funding is available for districts that may want to have law enforcement officers in their schools.

“I know it’s not on the minds of school officials, but it needs to be left to law enforcement,” Lloyd interjected. “I feel it’s very important that we work together to ensure the buildings are secure, our students are safe and our staff is safe.”

On a related note, board member Dr. John Figel suggested that leaders review having a forum with community and county safety forces to discuss further needs for school security.

“I think it’s something we’ve obviously discussed and we’d go to any lengths to secure students and staff,” he stated. “With what we’re facing today, we can certainly bring all of our resources together.”

Meanwhile, officials were updates on happenings throughout the district.

Pupils at Wintersville Elementary School collected more than 6,000 box tops and plan to acquire more technology to add to the tablets gained last year; first-graders visited Dixon Healthcare in town and presented baskets; second-graders were gathering items for chemo care bags for patients at the Tony Teramana Cancer Center; and WES has set its literacy night event, “Paws and Read a Good Book,” from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on March 13.

Indian Creek Middle School Principal Holly Minch-Hick noted the school held Mix It Up Days, where pupils mingled with their peers and were challenged to name everyone in their class; recognized students who showed good traits with character spotlight while Domino’s Pizza provided pies for recipients; is taking part in the Caught Being Good program sponsored by McDonald’s; and provided presentations during flex periods to reinforce positive behavior interventions and support and a safe school environment. She added the band’s winter pops concert is planned Friday.

In other business, the board:

¯ Heard from Lloyd, who questioned whether they have discussed Ohio Senate Bill 216, which would give the board and superintendent the ability to unilaterally move any teacher with grade K-12 licensure because there were underlying issues. Board members said the matter had not been discussed.

¯ Heard from district Treasurer Denise Todoroff, who thanked her staff for work during a software conversion.

¯ Approved an agreement with Kent State University to allow Indian Creek students to participate in a College Credit Plus program. The pact expires June 30, 2019.

¯ Approved a request for ICHS teacher Peggy Pyles to accompany eight students to the Close-Up Program in Washington, D.C., through Friday.

¯ Approved a recommendation to offset the cost of each Advanced Placement exam by $10, or an estimated total cost of $600.

¯ Agreed to award diplomas at the ICHS graduation ceremony on June 2.

¯ Adopted a resolution to enter into a pact with the Indian Creek Youth Baseball Softball League to grant exclusive use of the athletic fields at ICHS and on Bantam Ridge Road for games, practices and related activities.

¯ Approved Shelley Delanta-Amos as a paraprofessional at Hills Elementary effective Feb. 1.

¯ Approved the resignations of Amanda Vice, an intervention specialist at Hills Elementary, effective at the end of the current school year, and Deborah Gampolo, auxiliary clerk at Jefferson County Christian School, effective Feb. 23. Sharon Walulik was hired as Gampolo’s replacement.

¯ Employed Heaven Thompson in the CBI program at ICHS.

¯ Approved extra-duty supplemental contracts for Sarah Bolen as ICHS Character Education adviser; Mitchell Hukill, varsity baseball assistant coach; and David Kemp, high school track coach.

¯ Approved supplemental personal service contracts to Gary Bracone as assistant softball coach; Tina Evans, varsity assistant track coach; and Monica Pendleton, boys and girls tennis coach.

¯ Recognized the ICMS wrestling team as BMC champions; ICHS female swimmers who advanced in the 200-meter freestyle; high school cheerleaders for work at the OVAC competition; high school band members who performed at the OMEA Solo and Ensemble; ICHS girls basketball team for placing third in the OVAC contest; and girls and boys basketball teams for sectional play.