EXPLAINING HOW IT WORKS … Montpelier Senior Robotics Student Daniel Belknap gave a short explanation of the robot which he built, along with a number of other students, at the Montpelier March 10, 2020 School Board Meeting. Robotics teacher Lester Orndorff told the Board that it is greatly appreciated that each year the board approves the class going to the National Robotics Challenge. Watching in the background is board member Nate Rose. (PHOTO BY REBECCA MILLER, STAFF)
By: Rebecca Miller
Many area groups have gone from prayer to a moment of silence at the beginning of their meetings and usually that is all it is … a moment when everyone is quiet, but this month at the Montpelier School Board meeting on March 10, 2020, it was more of a prayer moment.
Board Member Kim Friend told the large group gathered for the meeting that the board would like to have a moment of silence in honor of the Bible and Swan families, due to the tragedy which happened on February 29.
The silence was palpable as those who pray took time to do so for the loved ones of 28 year old Montpelier mother, Danialle Swan, who was murdered in Toledo. Following the silence, the group stood as one, turned quietly toward the small classroom American Flag and clearly spoke the Pledge of Allegiance in unity.
Montpelier School Board meetings have been far from pleasant over the past few months as the debate over circumstances has waged, but for those first few moments in this particular meeting, there was a sense of oneness.
Later in the meeting, following more discussion and uncomfortable moments about the same issues that have wrought havoc in the hearts and minds of everyone involved for these months, Williams County Recorder and Montpelier School parent, Patti Rockey spoke up. “At the risk of making everybody mad at me in this room” she started, “I think that the Teachers Union as well as the Administration and the School Board” all need to stop using the word anonymous.
“Stop and think about how everybody is worried about retaliation and maybe we need to just take a breath on some of that and realize that it doesn’t matter what avenue you are coming from, … we all need to remember that we are friends, family, neighbors and try to not always see the bad in each other.”
In response, Board Member and Mediation Committee member Shawn Owen shared a chart that he feels will help with that. Owen said that the Mediation group came up with a plan for “proper steps” to be taken when a need arises.
He called it “How to Address Concerns” and explained that if followed it should help things to go better in the future, taking concerns through a process that should prevent a build up of tension.
He showed a paper form of what looked like a Communication Tree and said it is now on the Montpelier School Website for all to see. It will be in next year’s Student Handbook and has already been given to all the staff and teachers. The Board took a few moments after the Pledge to recognize students for their accomplishments, giving out Montpelier Loco items such as hats, caps, socks and a Loco coin to students whose teachers have written a letter of commendation.
On this evening, the students recognized were Chance Wolff of KinderKlub, First Grader Hunter Stahl, Third Grader Braxton Henry, Fourth Grader Kendalynne Dilley, Fourth Grader Janessa Humbarger, Sixth Grader Caroline Dick, and Junior High Student Shailyn Bohner.
Following that recognition, the High School Robotics Class along with their teacher Lester Orndorff, proceeded to introduce themselves and share a short explanation of the robot which they had brought to show. Mr. Orndorff thanked the board for always approving their trips to the National Robotics Challenge and said how much they appreciate it.
Near the end of the meeting in Other Business, the Board voted to approve (Motion 14.1) the Robotics team attending the 2020 Challenge in Marion, Ohio from April 2-4, 2020.
Concerns that were raised during the time of Public Participation included: MEA Representative, Stacie Yagelski, read a quote from the Written Statement read at the last meeting by President Jeremy Clinger.
“We have been approached with accusations of bullying and retaliation by the MEA not working with the members in the best interest and in fact keeping things from members as well,” and asked the board if the accusations have been directly addressed or investigated by the Board.
“I guess I’m just asking if they have been investigated because if that statement was made, that that’s what we are doing, I would just like to know if there has been any investigation,” she added. Board Member Nate Rose who was leading the Board in the absence of Mr. Clinger, looked at it on his computer and said, “I can they haven’t been investigated by us, no.”
Mrs. Yagelsi said they felt blindsided and that they have no way to correct the situation if it is happening and no one is coming to them to let them know. Mrs. Friend said she is more than willing to get that together for you and they agreed to then discuss it.
Frustration about the word “petty” being used in the statement. Speaker pointed out that this word was the only thing he remembers from the statement. He asked who wrote the statement and, despite some discussion and confusion, it was determined that it was agreed upon by all five Board members, through emails.
Mrs. Friend took responsibility for that word, and explained that she did not mean it the way he had taken it, as childish and unimportant. “That was not the intention to make anyone feel small,” Friend said.
Rose added that they apologize for the use of the word petty, but that he stands by the statement. “I read it multiple times and thought it was vetted well, but with hindsight maybe we should not have used that word. It was not intended for that. It was maybe the wrong word to use.”
Policy of harassment means things should be investigated. The leaders should not need prompting to do so. “Dumbfounded that you only communicate by email.”
Speaker said she feels the terminology used by the board, “We need to keep the kids first.” “I feel you are using that as a weapon. The teachers do keep the kids first.”
She said that while watching the awards and the Robotics class, you can see the kids are put first by the teachers. She also read the definition of Bullying and accused the board of not taking it seriously and brushing it under the rug.
Rose stated that they do not see it as a joke and he took offense at her saying so. She said she has been “involved in the intimidation that happens at this school” and is not easily intimidated but “my job is not on the line.
But when the teachers feel that their’s are…that’s a problem.” Mr. Owen spoke up and said that in the Mediation they have been addressing those concerns and having communication between MEA and Administration. He asked that any particular concerns still needing to be addressed, that they bring them up for the next meeting so they can talk about them.
Next gentleman added to throw out the word “toxic”. He expressed his concern about the legality of Board minutes being changed and added to. Rose answered that the old minutes have been corrected and will be approved.
He “chalked it up to human error” and said the board needs to do better at making sure they are correct from now on. They are also trying to make improvements on getting them out sooner for the public. Need to take it seriously was expressed as it is illegal and unprofessional.
Mayor Yagelski thanked Finance Officer Karla Rice for replying quickly through email. He expressed his frustration with “Board Docs” which is extremely not user friendly. He mentioned how he spent an hour looking through 48 separate tabs and doing a cut and paste to get it down to 20 pages.
“I think with the great students that we have and the media that we have, maybe they could” fix it. He also specifically asked that his wife’s name be spelled correctly after all the years she has been there.
Mrs. Friend asked Rice if there is a way to go in and repair Board Docs, but it looks like they need to contact the business and see what they can do. Yagelski added they are good policies but the public needs to know what they are and it is just hard to find them.
In the Legislative Report, Mr. Owen shared that last week they talked about House Bill 89, the choice program and no new action has been taken on that. He said he will continue to watch that to see how it can affect the funding for Montpelier Schools.
Other things that could possibly affect them: The Senate passed a concurrent resolution that would urge congress to enact the Sunshine Protection Act which would permanently extend Daylight Savings Time. They also passed Senate Bill 125 which would expand income tax deductions allowed to contributions of 529 Education Savings Plans and which would include contributions to plans established by other states.
Another item that might affect them was that they had a 3rd hearing on House Bill 210 which would require Ohio Department of Education Licensed Preschool programs and other entities to screen and test prospective and other employees for Tuberculosis and annually test certain employees for a five year period.
Superintendent Jamie Grimm reported that Mediation has been completed and the MEA and Administration have agreed to set up a Labor Management Relations Team which will be meeting on April 1 and May 6 to continue open communication.
He then gave an update on how they are planning to address the Corona Virus where the school is concerned. He stated that they have checked all of the school supply of disinfectant and hand soap and hand sanitizer and paper towels to last the school year.
Over Spring Break they will be disinfecting the entire school with an electro static sprayer. Lastly he shared that a meeting is set up for Thursday, March 12 after school to discuss their strategy in the event that they have to close the school down. He feels it is imminent and that between the Administration, the Board and the MEA, they are going to sit down and get ready for that possibility.
Board Member Nate Rose read a brief statement on behalf of the Board, “We would like to thank Mrs. Yagelski, Mrs. Coleman, the MEA Executive Team, along with Dr. Grimm and the Administration, including Mr. Owen who is included in the Mediation.”
“We just want to thank everyone for finishing that Mediation process. The feedback we got back from Mr. Owen has been very positive and encouraging, so thank you all. The other thing … as a Board we want to acknowledge that we heard you loud and clear on the meeting times and we are going to discuss that going forward.
Not sure what the resolution will be but we will have that discussion soon.” High School Principal Su Thorp reported that she got to attend the Franklin B Walter Award Banquet and watch Montpelier Senior Braden Saneholtz get honored and his teacher he chose, Ms. Rowe, his fifth grade teacher.
Freaky Friday Production went well on the weekend. Blood drive in February collected 22 units. Another one in May and they hope to get 42 units that time so they can get a $750 scholarship to award. ACT was administered on February 25, had pizza and got CPR training.
Locomotion Band will be traveling to New Orleans. Spring Break is March 16-20. Juniors and Seniors will participate in Mock Crash on April 15 at the Fairgrounds.
Elementary Principal Lance Thorp reported that Third Grade Reading Intervention has been started for eight students twice a week. Last week was Spirit Week and Dr. Seuss birthday. Upcoming are 5th and 6th Grade Science Fair on March 12, March 13 is early release and they will also enjoy a day of rotating classes for 20 minute sessions so everyone gets to meet each other.
Potlucks for staff are coming up. Third Quarter ends on March 13 and reports will go home on March 27. The state testing starts on Tuesday, April 14. Mrs. Rice reported on the ups and downs of the schools investments, caused by the Coronavirus scare.
She also informed Board members that they might need to change their passwords on Board Docs, according to an email that she had sent to them all.
In Regular Business, the Board voted to approve: 8.1-Motion to take from the table the agenda item 8.1 from the February 11, 2020 meeting which was tabled by resolution #18-20, referencing approving the minutes from the January 14, 2020 Organizational and Regular meetings and putting it back on the agenda at this time, with the one Correction of spelling Mrs. Yagelski’s first name as S-t-a-ci-e.
8.2.-Motion to waive the reading of the minutes and approve the minutes from the Organizational Meeting and the Regular Monthly Meeting held on January 14, 2020 as presented.
8.3 -Motion to waive the reading of the minutes and approve the minutes from the regular monthly meeting of February 11, 2020 as presented.
9.1 The financial reports for the month of February, 2020 as presented. Cash Reconciliation, FINSUM, Check Register, Budget Vs. Actual report, and Investment Report.
9 . 2 – Donations: $1,211.71 from Hands Helping Hands Ministry to Skilled Trades Program Fund; $5,622.00 from Montpelier Athletic Boosters to Athletic Department; $25 from Black Swamp Art to Art Department; $120 in Memory of Hobe Krause to Athletic Department and $50 for a Memorial Brick in Memory of Fran Anderson to the General Fund.
9.3-An Increase in the Amended Certificate in the General Fund, in the amount of $30,935, Income Tax line. This adjustment will increase revenue to match the Five-Year Forecast.
9.4.-Change the special cost center for the Skilled Trades Program Fund from 200 9655 as approved at the February 11, 2020 Board meeting to 200 9690.
10.1-Supplemental Contracts for the 201920 School year to Andrew Robinson for Spring Weight Room Coordinator, Wesly Rickenbert for Coassistant baseball coach and Katy Corkle for Musical Co-Director.
10.2-Noelle Chester, Carolyn Hopper, Kyle McCarley, Katie Thiel, Jennifer Martin and Megan Laberson as tutors for the After-School Wellness Program at $21 per hour for the 2019-20 school year. (Jodi Grime was also recommended by Mrs. Thorp).
10.3-Employ Elizabeth Becker as Spanish teacher for 20-21 school year; 11.1-Supplemental contract for the 2019-20 school year for Nickolas Ramos as Co-assistant Baseball Coach.
11.2-Add Shera Norrick to the substitute aide list for the 2019-2020 school year; 13.1-The Buyback agreement with Tech Defenders to purchase our used Lenovo Chromebooks at rates depending on the quality of the computer.
13.2.-the Revised Code 3313.845 service agreement with the Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center for services for the period of July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 at a cost of $354,551.66.
There was no Executive Session required and the meeting adjourned at approximately 6:00 p.m.
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org