By: Amy Wendt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
On Monday, January 8, the Pettisville Board of Education met for its 2024 Organizational Meeting and followed up with its Regular January Meeting with board members Brent Hoylman, Barry Hoylman, Justin Rufenacht, Pam Skates, and Scott Rupp present.
District Administrators Superintendent Josh Clark, Treasurer Chris Lee, Elementary Principal Jason Waldvogel, and Jr. High/High School Principal Adam Wagner also took their seats at the table.
Treasurer Chris Lee administered the oath of office to the board’s newest member, Barry Hoylman who was elected in November 2023. The Board then elected Brent Hoylman to serve as President and Scott Rupp as Vice President for the new year.
In accordance with the Organizational Meeting Consent Agenda, the Board assigned yearly duties to the superintendent and treasurer.
The Board also set its member stipend at $50 per meeting. It was further adopted that members would receive a stipend for attendance at sessions sponsored by support organizations (OSBA, BASA, OASBO, ODE, OSFC, NwOESC, State Auditor, and PLS) relating to education and public schools.
The stipend amounts for these special sessions are $60 for sessions less than three hours and $125 for sessions exceeding three hours.
The Board Service Fund that supports board members’ attendance at conferences, seminars, and other meetings was set at $4,500.
The Board adopted its 2024 Meeting Schedule as follows: Monday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m.; Monday, March 11 at 7:00 p.m. (tentative); Monday, April 8 at 7:00 p.m.; Monday, May 13 at 7:00 p.m.; Monday, June 10 at 8:00 p.m.; Monday, July 8 at 8:00 p.m.; Monday, August 12 at 7:00 p.m.; Monday, September 9 at 7:00 p.m.; Monday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m.; Monday, November 18 at 7:00 p.m.; and Monday, December 9 at 7:00 p.m. All meetings are held in the school Conference Room.
Moving next to the regular meeting for January, the Board approved minutes from the December 2023 meeting, the payment of bills, and the financial reports.
In personnel matters, Julia Richer was approved for a lateral salary move and a 12-week maternity leave was approved for Dacoda Hinegardner.
The Board also accepted the resignations of Shelly Schramm, effective May 31, 2024, and Cindy Rupp, effective February 5, 2024.
Jason Waldvogel, Elementary Principal, provided an update to the Board and shared that the elementary is taking part in the Box Tops for Education Program (BTE).
Waldvogel noted that over the years, the school has received over $19,500 through BTE, however in recent years, participation in the program has waned since it transitioned to a completely online format.
Waldvogel also shared brief updates regarding Elementary Spelling Bee results and noted that preparations are beginning for Kindergarten registration.
Junior High/High School Principal Adam Wagner took his turn addressing the Board sharing that conversations about the current grading scale are beginning and more information will be presented by the March Board meeting.
Wagner then highlighted the progress of a “student-driven” Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) initiative entitled R. I. S. E. The acronym stands for R – Be Respectful, I – Show Integrity, S – Stay Safe, E – Exceed Expectations.
The high school will also see its homecoming game against Liberty Center on Saturday, January 27.
In his report to the Board, Chris Lee, District Treasurer, provided additional details about a proposed amendment to a Resolution regarding the transfer of donated funds, which was initially passed in March 2023.
The purpose of the amendment was to address language discrepancies identified by the State Auditor’s findings. The Board approved the amendment to ensure the Resolution aligns with the State Auditor’s requirements.
Updating the Board on changes seen on the books due to Fulton County’s recent real estate revaluation, Lee noted, “Our (real estate) values for the Pettisville School District increased by $19,568,450. That is shocking.”
Lee went on to explain to the Board the multiple variables that affect the school’s revenue. “All in all, our General Fund is going to see an increase in revenue of $235,691 based on this revaluation.”
In the superintendent’s report, Josh Clark shared that open enrollment is beginning and applications are coming in. He also noted that the lighting project is nearing completion.
Clark then introduced Art Teacher Joe Delphia who shared a presentation with the Board about the possibility of installing a wood fire kiln. Delphia, who has been the art teacher at Pettisville for two years is also an artist who creates functional wood-fired pottery.
“There’s an anniversary that’s really important to me that’s coming up. That’s two years that it has been since I accepted this job. I’ve never looked back, I could not be happier here.”
“It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here and working on behalf of our kids. It’s also – that’s the same two-year anniversary of the first time I told Mr. Clark that I thought we should have a wood kiln,” Delphia began.
“The thing that I’m really passionate about – obviously I care about art, I’m a potter and artist. But more than that, I want our kids to see the ways that their interests can take flight and that they can pursue the things they’re passionate about.”
“And for me, that often means looking at ways that things can work together which is one of the reasons I’m so excited that the next thing on the agenda is for you to make a decision about the STEAM program.”
Delphia continued, “There’s a saying that we often throw around, ‘It’s an art, not a science…It’s not my favorite term – if I’m honest…I think it kind of missed the mark and that it pits the two against each other…But I think that art and science – and art and math – everything is stronger when we find ways to use them together.”
During his presentation, Mr. Delphia suggested the introduction of a wood fire kiln to the school could offer an opportunity for students of all ages to participate in its construction.
The plan might involve the agriculture class in designing and erecting a pavilion for the kiln, with students from various age groups contributing to laying the kiln’s brickwork.
Additionally, Mr. Delphia emphasized that an outdoor wood fire kiln could provide cross-disciplinary learning opportunities for students of all ages, encompassing subjects like chemistry, geology, physics, and art.
Mr. Delphia envisioned firing the kiln once or twice a year, treating it like a field trip for students to provide hands-on learning experiences.
Comparing costs, Mr. Delphia mentioned that a new electric kiln, along with the required ventilation installation, would cost around $4,000-$5,000 for the school.
Interestingly, the expense of erecting an outdoor wood fire kiln would be relatively comparable. One of the proposed locations for the kiln is the hoop house. The estimated 20-year life expectancy of the kiln would make it a valuable long-term educational investment for the school.
Delphia offered an example of how a wood fire kiln could be beneficial to the fourth-grade class. “I was talking about it with one of the fourth-grade teachers who is – their curriculum changed, and she needs to teach geology, mineralogy, erosion.”
Well, that’s clay. Clay is an eroded mineral that’s deposited somewhere else and when you heat it up, it fuses back into the original stone that it started as. So we could do that whole process.”
“There’s clay all over Fulton County and the surrounding counties. Kids could dig up clay. We could do some tests here in the school in the electric kiln.”
“They could learn about the clay from different places…then we could mash it up, mix it with some water, and paint it inside – a pot they made – in the Art Room with me. Put it in the kiln.”
“That could be a fourth-grade assignment they could do for years that they would learn and have something to take home.”
Upon conclusion of Mr. Delphia’s presentation, the Board considered and approved the reassignment of Pettisville math teacher Greg Waidelich as the new STEAM teacher for the 2024-2025 school year. It was noted he would need to be replaced in the math department and that position has been posted.