From left, pictured at the July 19 Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education meeting are school board members Tom Milbery, Beverly Rhoads, Bill Myers, Jerry Walker and Larry Lyons and district treasurer Ben Teeters. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
From left, pictured at the July 19 Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education meeting are school board members Tom Milbery, Beverly Rhoads, Bill Myers, Jerry Walker and Larry Lyons and district treasurer Ben Teeters. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
With the district less than one month away from the first day of school, the Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education meeting held July 19 included discussion of plans for the next school year as well as results from the 2020-21 school year.

Superintendent Tim Davis reminded the board that the first day of school is approaching on Aug. 12, with teachers returning Aug. 9. Open house will be Aug. 10, and new staff orientation will held during the first week of August. The district is finalizing a date for a school board work session next month as well.

“We will be posting times for open house coming up probably next week, just to kind of narrow down those details,” Davis said.

In response to a question from board president Bill Myers, the superintendent said that he believed class lists would “be sent out the first week of August.”

As of Monday, definitive plans for COVID-19 guidance for the start of the school year had not been finalized. Earlier on July 19, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that they recommended face masks continue for “everyone older than age 2 … regardless of vaccination status” in the classroom for 2021-22. (The AAP recommendations, which includes links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations as well, can be read at: https://highlandcountypress.com/Content/In-The-News/Education/Article/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-updates-recommendations-for-opening-schools-in-fall-2021/2/75/70132.)

“I am meeting with the health department and other superintendents in Highland County to go over basically the health needs that have come about with the different guidelines and restrictions to put a plan together,” Davis told the board. “We took about a month and a half off, so we are going to meet again to prepare for the school year.”

Davis also praised the district’s custodians and transportation department for their work in preparing for students’ return to the buildings.

“The buildings are finishing up being cleaned, and the floors are waxed, and they’re getting all the stuff clean and put back in the rooms,” Davis said. “Our custodians are working very hard.

“Our buses again passed inspection, so they’re ready for the new school year, which is always good to see. Ron [Ward, transportation director] and the mechanics do a great job of having them inspected. They’re always up to the challenge and meet those needs.”

Davis said the district is also “working with the county engineer to put up a guard rail for Everetts Way,” a newly constructed access road at the high school and middle school, connecting to state Route 247.

“That hopefully will be in the works in the next week or so,” Davis said. “It will be open for the school year. It’s just got to be painted, and putting in the guard rail coming down that hill is basically the final touch.”

During the superintendent’s report, board member Jerry Walker asked Davis “how many parking spaces were added because of the changes we’ve done” around the high school/middle school building.

“We’ve probably added at least 20 in the parking lot just behind the auditorium,” Davis said. “We’ve probably added another 50 to the new parking lot across the road, and then on the north side of the driveway, we’ve probably added another 10 or 15, with paving all the way down to the fire hydrant, and then the new parking lot added on the west side of the Barnhouse [Center] — so probably, roughly, 75 to 100 new spots in the back.”

That also included increased wheelchair-accessible parking, Davis said, in response to a follow-up question from Walker, as well as “ramps going into the auditorium.”

Also during Monday’s meeting, the board voted 5-0 (unless otherwise indicated) to approve several motions related to the upcoming school year.

• A revision was made to Policy #5336 — Care of Students with Disabilities and approved by the board. According to Davis, the change was made to reflect new protocol and training required for students with diabetes.

“It’s an addition basically dealing with diabetics and school employees being able to kind of recognize and be able to deal with emergency situations,” Davis said. “Our school nurse would train them, including bus drivers that transport a student that is a diabetic.”

Myers asked if the training would be “done prior to the school year starting, during professional development days.” Davis said the plan is to initially train teachers and bus drivers who have a diabetic student in their classroom or bus, then eventually “roll that out with more time so everybody’s trained.”

• The board approved the 2021-22 bus routes.

“Mr. Ward and the transportation department went through and again looked at where our kids were and the bus stops we needed and created the maps,” Davis said. “They made a few adjustments, but it’s just different stops for different buses. Everything’s pretty much the same.”

• A lengthy list of individuals recommended for various contracts and positions was approved ahead of the 2021-22 school year, including:

– Certificated (all one-year contracts): Ryan Reilly, HES music teacher; Shania Setty, preschool teacher; Linsey Wagner, kindergarten teacher; and Benjamin Young, HMS teacher.

— Classified: Melissa Book and Rebecca Peters, both paraprofessionals.

— Sub classified: Richard Bodley, custodian; Rachael Brath, bus driver; Kathy Clevinger, custodian; Mickey Cooper, aide/clerical; Deborah Fister, aide/cook; James Florence, bus driver; Krystal Hannah, aide; Joyce Howland, aide/cook; Alison Hurtt, cook; Shelly Johnson, aide/clerical; Phil Loudin, bus driver; Bret Malone, bus driver; Karen Marler, custodian; Neil Miller, bus driver; Danny Morgan, custodian; Amanda Penwell, aide/secretary; Dorothy Porter, cook; Brian Roades, bus driver; Linda Roush, aide/clerical/cook; Kelley “Teal” Sexton, aide/clerical; Cindy Smith, aide/clerical; Lisa Smith, aide/cook; Cathy Teeters, aide/clerical; Robert Warden, aide/clerical; Katie Watson, aide/cook; and Laura Wolf, aide.

— Sub certified: Barbara Beam, Kaylynn Bell, Vicky Beltz, Lindsay Bloom, Amanda Burnem, Henry Burwinkle, Jeanne Chaney, Kimberly Cochran, Taylor Coombs (nurse), Kari Crafton, Angela Crowder, Keri Douglas, Donita Everetts, Brenda Fishback, Emily Foster, Phillip Gilmore, Alyssa Gomez, John Hern, Erica Hilton, Pete Hollon, Paula Homan, Jana Huff-Daye, Joy Jordan, Tara Malloy, Donald Marsh, Marilyn Mathews, Kimberly Miller, Gaye E. Moore, Morgan Morrow, Terry Mull, Sandra Nartker, Tammy Newsome, Thomas Oglesby, Cynthia Olds, Katie Penwell-Purdin, Matthew Peters, April Rager, Robin Reilly, Patricia Reinholz, Ethel “Jean” Roeper, Cynthia Saylor, Sandra Shoemaker, Catherine Smith, William Snowball, Courtney Stewart, Lisa Throckmorton, Charles Toca, Larry Waugh, Shawn Young and Stephani Young.

— Supplemental: Sarah Albert (DLC), Danielle Bice (DLC), Marcy Boyd (DLC), Erin Bramley (DLC), Deon Burns (HS assistant football coach), JC Captain (MS football coach), Courtney Daniels (DLC), Olivia Fulton (DLC), Carey Juillerat (DLC), Trista Rhodes (HS assistant girls soccer coach), Jordan Rhude (DLC), Janey Silcott (DLC), John Tufele (HS assistant football coach), Candice Wireman (DLC, MS student council adviser) and Shannon Wright (DLC).

— Volunteers (all at HES unless otherwise noted): Victoria Baker, Amy Baldwin, Emily Berry, Kayla Bieler, Emily Black, Bridget Campbell, Elizabeth Carson, Chase Colliver, Melissa Custer, Stephanie Dunseith, Jordyn Evans, Shawna Faul, Audrey Ferguson, Chelsey Gardner, Bertha Hamilton, Lynette Hamilton, Allison Harper, Britany Harper, Nancy Horvath, Allison Knisley, Logan Lesley, Debra Lewis, Regina Meadows, Jeffery Meyer, Branton Miller, Tristan Montgomery, Stephanie Morrow, Austen Park, Thomas Grant Rankin, Megan Scott, Morgan Seaman, Amanda Smith, Janice Smith, Ashley Taylor, Sherry Ward, Tonya Weber and Jordan Williamson (volleyball coach).

— Google training stipends: Elena Cullom, Sandra Kniffley, Brittany Oxley, Mercedes Reese, Marlene Whiting, Michele Williams and Kellie Yochum.

— Pax training stipends: Paige Anderson, Shellie Anderson, Hannah Barnett, Courtney Daniels, Jessica Fair, Sawyer Hooper Knutsson and Maria Snyder.

— In a separate motion passing 3-0 (with Myers and board member Larry Lyons abstaining), other contracts approved were Deanna Lyons (sub clerical) and Crystal Myers (DLC, Pax training stipend).

• The board approved a standard annual resolution indicating that the board “wishes to participate and authorize the Southwestern Ohio Educational Purchasing Council to advertise and receive bids on said board’s behalf as per the specifications submitted for the cooperative purchase of school buses.”

• Although plans are not set in stone, the board approved a request for an out-of-state field trip for the Hillsboro FFA chapter, in the event they are able to attend the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis Oct. 27-30.

“We are hoping that they get the opportunity to go,” Davis said. “We’re still waiting on what their restrictions and different things are going to be.”

• • •

In a look back at last year, Davis said during his report that “preliminary state assessment data looks very good,” particularly for the students who attended in-person learning in 2020-21.

“Right now, it’s not official for kids that count and don’t count for our district, so the numbers are not exactly accurate,” Davis said. “About the first week of August, we’ll have concrete data, but it is showing in a trend that is positive.

“Back in 2018, we had 12 tested areas that were below 70 percent. In 2019, we had nine, and of the preliminary data that we have — even with the time off [at the end of 2019-20 school year] — shows we only have six. We’re continuing to increase our scores.”

Davis said that high school administrators are working to compare data for students who attended school in-person versus those who did online classes last year.

“I don’t have all the data, but a lot of the data looks very good for the students who were in the building and being taught on a daily basis, and not so much for some of the online stuff for some of the assessments that were taken,” Davis said. “I will have more for the board once I get all of those things completed.”

The administrators are also analyzing the data to determine “improvements we’ve got to do,” which will “drive the instruction in professional development for next school year,” Davis added.

• At the beginning of the meeting, Bret Malone of the Southern Ohio Educational Services Center shared, and discussed, the ESC’s 2020-21 year-in-review video with the board. To watch the video, go to https://fb.watch/v/19593_16u/.

“A lot of things we did were remote, virtual, providing services to our teachers and administrators that we serve in these counties,” Malone said.

After the 11-minute video concluded, Malone discussed the ACCESS Alliance projects mentioned early in the video.

“If a district needs a service and we don’t have that service or can’t provide that service, we contract with another ESC, which we still save you money,” Malone said. “That’s something that we’ve been a part of for a number of years now, and we do provide service to some districts through other ESCs and save them money as well.”

The video also highlighted various projects that the ESC helped facilitate for sometimes just one school district or a few districts, as the Southern Ohio ESC includes “school districts and other agencies/organizations in Adams, Clinton, Fayette and Highland counties,” according to their website.

“We can individualize training for your teachers or anything that you need,” Malone said.

Myers asked “how many employees the Southern Ohio ESC has.” Malone said there are “approximately 110, including Hopewell/Region 14.”

Lyons said that he counted “66 or so services that were offered” in the video and asked Malone to “pick the top five areas that give value” to member districts.

In order, Malone listed teacher professional development; OTES (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System) and OPES (Ohio's Principal Evaluation System) training; the Southern Ohio Learning Center, which serves students from Blanchester, Clinton-Massie, East Clinton, Fairfield, Greenfield and Wilmington districts who need individualized support; the State Support Teams, who offer Ohio Department of Education training; and virtual meetings with administrators that are facilitated by the ESC and include various informative sessions.

The video also mentioned that the ESC oversaw 660 home education approvals in eight districts during the past school year. “Is that number expected to go down now that COVID’s through?” Myers asked. “Was that higher than normal average than you typically have?”

“I expect it to go down a little bit,” Malone said.

In other discussion:

• Lyons said that for a legislative update, “the Fair Funding Act for schools was passed, with some vetoes.”

“Finally, there’s been some revision to that,” he said. “It’s not a significant change, and I’d say there’s already two committees that are looking at some additional changes, so that just continues on.”

• Board member Beverly Rhoads provided highlights from the July 14 Great Oaks Board of Directors meeting, noting that this is the first time since the start of the pandemic that the entire board met together in person.

The Great Oaks board received a copy of the 2021-22 student handbook; approved program changes for the upcoming school year; discussed Great Oaks Education Foundation scholarships; heard a school nurse review; and reviewed the Fair School Funding Plan.

• The board approved the monthly financial reports. According to district treasurer Ben Teeters, June 2021 — which, as he noted, was the final month of the fiscal year — saw a cash balance of $6,492,072, compared to $7,283,894 in 2020; expenses of $2,733,764, compared to $2,578,005 last year; and revenues of $1,493,951, compared to $1,620,140 the previous June.

“We’re still running along with where we were in last year’s comparisons,” Teeters said. “Things are still good.”

• The board accepted a $500 anonymous donation toward the Tomahawk summer meals program and a $1,500 donation from Legacy Excavating LLC/Mickey Waters toward Hillsboro Athletic Varsity Cheerleading.

“We are very appreciative of our community,” Myers said. “They help us out, willing to donate toward whatever causes come up and help our students out. We couldn’t be happier with the way our community helps.”

• The board accepted resignations of maintenance/grounds employee Dean Armstrong (effective Dec. 31, due to retirement); teachers Michael Brush (effective July 6, due to retirement), Gabrielle Garrett (effective end of contract 2020-21 school year), Elizabeth Pettit (effective end of contract 2020-21 school year) and Joy Polstra (effective July 19); and paraprofessional Dena Vandenberg (effective July 6).

• A change of status for the following staff members was approved: from MA+15 to MA+30 — Elena Cullom, Jeremy Hatfield, Sarah Hatfield, Deanna Luman and Matthew Schneider; from BA to BA150 — Joseph Gobin; and from BA to MA — Kristin Walker and Shanna Wright.

• Leaves of absence for paraprofessional Jean Fauber and teacher Bruce Robson, both effective for the 2021-22 school year, were approved.

• The board approved a $50,000 transfer between the permanent improvement and bond retirement funds for the auditorium payment, according to Teeters.