MOUNT VERNON — Before Monday’s meeting of the Mount Vernon City Schools Board of Education began, board members and administrators were treated to a tour of the middle school wellness room, outfitted as a result of a physical education and wellness grant.
As the meeting started, Superintendent Steve Short and the board expressed thanks to the community for passing the renewal levy.
Paul Higgins received the high school Behind the Scenes award. In presenting the award, high school principal Kathy Kasler said Higgins, a retired executive chef, has volunteered in nutrition classes for the past four years and provides students with “a positive experience in healthy food instruction.” She said he has encouraged students to develop their own healthy vegetable soup recipe, using vegetables not usually associated with typical soups.
The board also passed a resolution commending scholar-athlete Tate Devlin for excellence in swimming as well as academic achievement.
Academic options and 21st century learning at the high school were highlighted during the reports section of the meeting. Kasler talked about flexible credit choices, the Central Ohio Technical College classes offered at Mount Vernon High School, discussed new technology used in the classroom and demonstrated Naviance software, which helps guidance counselors and students explore college and career options online.
Because it will be a new class offered next year due to receiving a grant, science teacher Bonnie Schutte and student McKenzie McClure explained what nanotechnology is. McClure’s science project on nanotechnology earned a superior rating at State Science Day this past weekend.
During the public participation portion of the meeting, a freshman student talked to the board concerning standardized school attire. She asked the board to carefully consider the proposal and the possible negative aspects of standardized dress.
Suspended middle school teacher John Freshwater also addressed the board, with the intention, he said, of keeping board members up to date with regard to his contract termination hearing. He also touched upon the civil suits and related settlement offers.
Parent Steve Dennis, who is involved in the suits, said Freshwater’s comments were inappropriate. He asked the board to adhere to its policy regarding public participation, and said that the settlement proposals referred to by Freshwater are supposed to be kept confidential by law.
Regarding personnel, the board granted the retirement requests of middle school physical education teacher and head girls basketball coach Doug Savage, middle school reading and language arts teacher Joan Madzay, high school science teacher and science department head Richard Cunningham, and Pleasant Street custodian Gary Schirtzinger, all effective May 31. It also accepted letters of resignation from high school student council advisor Maria Casebeer, middle school cheerleading advisor Jacqueline Davis and middle school girls volleyball coach Renee Jackson.
The board issued supplemental contracts for summer school staff, granted extended time contracts to several individuals and approved a job description for a district literacy coordinator stipend to be paid through federal funds.
New continuing contracts were approved for Tiffany Burke, Patricia Dice, Rhonda Doup, Wesley Elifritz, Corey Firebaugh, Julie Fowler, Hollie Frackman, Heidi Hanna, Betsy Sabo, Shae Strouse and April Thompson. New hires included Erika Hughett, high school English; Rosalind Thacker, district band director; Cynthia Robinson, one-hour cook at the high school, effective May 3; and Sabrina Wicker, high school secretary, effective the 2010-11 school year.
The board added to the classified substitute list, approved summer school aides and summer work crew assignments. Through a grant from Ariel Corp., administered through the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County, the district will be able to hire five college students as part of the summer work crew.
In addition to approving routine fiscal reports and actions, the board accepted the following memorial donations: “All in a Day” to the Columbia library in memory of Frank Thomas, son of Traci and Rob Thomas; “Castaway Cats” to Pleasant Street in memory of Betty Schodorf, mother of Jean Frye, cook at Pleasant Street; “How Sweet it is (and Was)” to Twin Oak in memory of Regina Lang, mother of Mike Lang, custodian at the middle school; and a communication device to Student Services, donated by Joseph Mento and Jan Jones in memory of their son, Mike.
Other donations included $1,400 from Harley Davis Jr. and $1,800 from the Bemis Company Foundation to the middle school to be used for interactive classroom performance system units, six reams of paper to the high school from various individuals and miscellaneous office supplies from Staples to the central office.
The board accepted the bid from Yellow Bus Sales Ltd. for the disposal of Bus No. 1. It also approved the consultant agreement for technology services with Info-Link Technologies, accepted a proposal from MKC Associates Inc. for engineering services for security upgrades to the district’s school buildings, and approved a memorandum of understanding with Instructional Technology Services of Central Ohio Inc. for educational applications and iPADs in elementary classrooms. Federal grant funding for the project is being sought by ITSCO.
The board also approved a list of 2010 graduates, pending completion of all requirements; renewal of membership in the Ohio High School Athletic Association; middle school handbook for 2010-11; middle school fees in the amount of $22.25 for the 2010-11 school year; Race to the Top memoranda of understanding; and a June 2011 educational student trip to Athens and the Islands, contingent upon the situation in Greece at the time.
Prior to adjournment, the board went into executive session to discuss personnel. No further action was taken.