From left, pictured are Hillsboro City Schools board members Tom Milbery, Beverly Rhoads, Jerry Walker, Larry Lyons and Sophie Bourne. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
From left, pictured are Hillsboro City Schools board members Tom Milbery, Beverly Rhoads, Jerry Walker, Larry Lyons and Sophie Bourne. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
The Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education heard another update on COVID-19 totals as well as an encouraging report on the nearly completed high school auditorium during their Monday, Nov. 16 meeting.

Superintendent Tim Davis said that as of Monday, the district has two active COVID-19 cases, both at the elementary school; six staff quarantines (including elementary, middle school and high school); and 64 student quarantines (including elementary, middle and high school students).

However, Davis said that the student quarantines are not necessarily “directly related to school activities.”

“Kids are quarantined due to parents being positive or relatives that are positive, so those numbers are inflated for what we have in schools,” Davis said. “Dealing with our quarantining, it’s basically a six-foot radius to where kids are in the classroom for up to 15 minutes. That’s not a lot of time, when you’re around different people in groups — small groups, lunch, recess.”

Davis thanked the district’s staff for their efforts, particularly with the challenges of contact tracing.

“Katie Greer, our nurse, has been doing an outstanding job,” he said. “We work with the health department, but we do a lot of the contact tracing dealing with where the kids are, what classes they’re in, and working with the teachers with seating charts and bus drivers.

“As you can imagine, it’s been a difficult go, and I just want to say thank you for all of our teachers, our bus drivers and all of our staff. All of our employees have just been doing an outstanding job to keep us here, to keep us going to school.”

Due to contact tracing and subsequent quarantines, Davis said the district faces a shortage of substitutes for various positions “on a daily basis.” According to the superintendent, the district is “missing about 25 employees a day on a regular basis,” and they “only have about five or six to eight subs that come in.”

“We’re constantly pulling people, but our staff is doing a great job of covering each other,” Davis told the board.

The superintendent added that the district’s COVID-19 “numbers are looking very good” thus far.

“It’s just a testament to our parents, for keeping kids home that are sick; our staff, for doing a good job; and the mask-wearing is something I can’t say enough about,” Davis said. “We’ve heard a lot of positives, when you hear the governor speak and different people, that schools are a safe place. They’re not spreading [the virus] like they thought they were going to.”

Although the district currently plans to “continue with where we’re going” with in-person instruction, contingency plans are either in place or in the process of being drafted, Davis said.

“We did put out an extended school closure plan to the middle school and high school, just to prepare parents if something were to happen, to have an expectation for ‘this is what we would be doing,’” he said. “The elementary is still working on theirs, just because it’s different for a kindergartener that can’t just get on a Chromebook by themselves and how they’re going to be able to do the different things that are going to be expected.

“Our administrators and our teachers have really done a good job preparing for if there is a shutdown, but right now, we’re still going full-go, five days a week, with in-session classes.”

High school sports will be again impacted by the pandemic, as state orders are limiting attendance at sporting events. With winter sports beginning this month, Davis said high school principal Joe Turner and athletic director Dave Dietrick are finalizing plans.

“Winter sports are going to be another challenge with [being] indoors,” Davis said. “Mr. Turner and Mr. Dietrick are working with the FAC [Frontier Athletic Conference], kind of like we did in football, for what the criteria are for how many tickets we’re going to get, the number of people that can be in the gym, and we’re going to get that stuff out shortly, hopefully on our social media.”

Also during the superintendent’s report, Davis said the high school auditorium saw its “best month” yet as far as contractors being on site working to complete various aspects of the auditorium’s construction.

“We had over 50-some subcontractors, people, at the auditorium at one time, so we’ve had a lot of productive days,” Davis said.

As previously reported, Hillsboro City Schools has contracted with Woolpert to provide full design services for the new $6 million auditorium, with Universal Contracting Corporation serving as the construction manager at risk. The auditorium will be 23,000 square feet, seat 800 and include flexible space for changing rooms and/or locker rooms.

Progress in the past month includes installing windows and doors; pouring concrete outside the building; painting the ceilings and back walls inside the auditorium; and adding gray, white and red tiles to the locker room walls.

“It’s still slated to finish now the third week of January,” Davis said. “We’ve had some delays, but I mean, as far as a month — with the year that we’ve had, and we’re only about a month, month and a half kind of pushed back — I’m very pleased.”

For the other ongoing construction project — Everetts Way, an access road being built at the high school and middle school, connecting to state Route 247 — Davis said there is currently a “holdup” with the state.

“Doing the school zone extension on 247 has to be approved by the Ohio Department of Transportation, so we are waiting on that to be approved,” he said. “It’s kind of been a good thing and a bad thing. “With the auditorium, we’re trying to finish up those parking lots and get a new driveway put in, so the whole back of the auditorium will be redone and repaved, so it looks like that may all be done around the same time.”

• • •

Along with the superintendent’s report, the board committee reports included the following:

• Beverly Rhoads — who presided over Monday’s meeting, as board president Bill Myers was absent — summarized the Nov. 11 Great Oaks Board of Directors meeting, which she attended in person.

The meeting included a moment of silence in honor of Veterans Day and in memory of board member Deborah Delp of Mason City Schools, who passed away last month; a presentation of the district’s five-year financial forecast; a discussion of second-quarter adjustments to Restart Your Future 2020; a report of increased market share for area juniors attending Great Oaks; updates on projects at Great Oaks campuses; information on the ACTE election; and the Diversity and Unity Committee Report.

Rhoads also noted that she attended this year’s virtual Ohio School Boards Association Capital Conference, which she said she felt was “not successful.”

• Larry Lyons briefly discussed the district’s financial outlook. As previously reported, the district passed the second updated five-year forecast of the year in October, following an initial forecast in May that reflected an almost $400,000 cut in state funding for the months of May and June.

“We are still running our expenses a little less than what was in the five-year forecast, and our average revenue continues to be a little higher than what was in our forecast,” he said. “That’s a good thing.”

For the legislative committee, Lyons said that state legislation continues to primarily focus on COVID-19, but a school funding bill has been “recommended.”

“It’s one of many, so it’s kind of a wait-and-see on that,” he said.

• Jerry Walker added additional insight into the new parking lot being constructed at the high school, adjacent to the previously mentioned auditorium.

“A couple weeks ago, we were talking about the paved area outside of the entrance, on the back side,” he said. “There has been a designation for handicapped parking — I think an abundant, and necessarily an abundant number — to allow people to enter on that back side carefully.”

• Student representative Sophie Bourne discussed various activities, including the high school’s recognition of local veterans.

“Last week for Veterans Day, since we couldn’t do a program, we did a video — student council did — and played it in homeroom,” she said. “I think we sent it out in an email, too. We interviewed Terry Dean, and we had many people email us with pictures and names and what their service was and what they did.”

Bourne, a senior, also said that her class is concerned about a possible state-mandated return to online learning.

“The senior class is just worried about being shut down because it’s our year,” Bourne said. “I don’t think the other classes really care. I think all we’re waiting for is Thursday for DeWine to say something and see what happens.”

• • • 

In other action, the board voted 5-0 (unless otherwise indicated) to approve the following action:

• The board approved the financial reports as presented. District treasurer Ben Teeters reported an October 2020 General Fund cash balance of $8,634,100, compared to $7,434,626 in October 2019; expenses of $2,116,755 for October, compared to $2,278,067 in the previous October; and revenues of $2,178,115 for the month of October, compared to $2,540,202 in October 2019.

“Our schools are running on an even keel to what we’ve been in the past,” Teeters said. “Things are still good.”

• The board approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) pertaining to section 25.01, extracurricular/field trips, and section 25.02, field trip request. According to Davis, the goal of the MOU is to cut down on some of the busing issues the district has faced thus far in the 2020-21 school year.

“The 25.01 [section] is dealing with taking vans to extracurricular events and getting that due to the lack of drivers that we have and some substitutes,” Davis said. “If we could take two vans for a smaller number of students — dealing with, say, golf or tennis, different things like that — that would allow the two coaches to drive vans. It’s only transporting less than 18 kids.”

Board member Tom Milbery asked if the coaches would be required to obtain a CDL (commercial driver’s license). Davis said they would have to be “van-certified,” which can be done “through the transportation department.”

The MOU section for 25.02 is “dealing with posting of the routes,” according to Davis.

“It used to be 36 hours, and now it’s three work days,” the superintendent said. “We’re just trying to change when we would get notification of when that trip is going to be there. Instead of counting hours, it just made it a little bit easier to use three work days.”

Davis added that this MOU will be effective until the spring, when they will be “re-negotiating.”

• A lengthy list of individuals was approved for contracts and positions indicated, including numerous coaching and volunteer positions for winter and spring sports.

Supplemental positions included: Tim Bell, HS reserve softball coach; Melissa Boysel, Camp Joy coordinator (retroactive to Oct. 1); Gary Breeden, HS assistant softball coach; Marcus Burns, HS assistant varsity boys basketball coach; Miles Burton, HS varsity boys basketball coach; Amy Captain, HS assistant basketball cheerleading coach; Jordan Clark, district leadership council (retroactive to Sept. 29); Aaron Chaney, HMS student council adviser; Amy Craig, HS quick recall adviser; Scott Eastes, eighth grade wrestling coach; Chad Fields, HS varsity girls basketball coach; Jacob Fouch, HS freshman boys basketball coach; Jason Fox, district leadership council (retroactive to Sept. 29); Matt Garman, HS varsity baseball coach and district leadership council (retroactive to Sept. 29); Jarrod Hart, eighth grade boys basketball coach; Nathan Horne, district leadership council (retroactive to Sept. 29); Ethan Hurtt, HS assistant varsity boys track coach; Carey Juillerat, MS girls basketball coach and National Junior Honor Society; Sawyer Hooper Knutsson, HS reserve girls basketball coach; Phil Loudin, seventh grade boys basketball coach; Teresa Marion, HS varsity swimming; Bud Marsh, HS boys varsity track coach; Jennifer Maurer, MS assistant basketball cheerleading coach; Tayler Middleton, HS varsity basketball cheerleading coach; Ben Miller, HS reserve baseball coach and district leadership council (retroactive to Sept. 29); Catherine Moberly, HS varsity softball coach; Jessica Molyet, HS assistant girls track coach; Greg Rhoads, HS varsity wrestling coach; Susan Rhoads, district leadership council (retroactive to Sept. 29); Duston Richards, HS assistant varsity baseball coach; Nathan Rutledge, MS girls basketball coach; Dan Snapp, HS boys varsity bowling; Rob Snavely, HS girls varsity track coach; Clyde Snow, HS reserve boys basketball coach; Lucia Tomko, HS girls varsity bowling coach; Larue Turner, HS varsity boys tennis coach; Toby Warrington, HS assistant wrestling coach; Wyatt Wilkin, seventh grade wrestling coach; Michele Williams, Camp Joy coordinator (retroactive to Oct. 1); and Brandon Wilson, HS assistant baseball coach.

Sub classified positions approved were Kirsten Harp, aide (retroactive to Nov. 2) and Joyce Howland, cook. There were two sub certified positions approved, Alyssa Gomez and Kameron Rinehart.

The following volunteers were also approved: Wyatt Condo, high school baseball coach; Shane Ison, high school bowling coach; and Gabby Lochbaum, girls basketball coach.

In a separate motion, which passed 4-0 with Lyons abstaining, the board approved Scott Haines as high school assistant girls varsity coach and Darci Miles for district leadership council (retroactive to Sept. 29).

• The board approved an amendment to the local government services contract with the state auditor’s office to cover additional services for the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) audit, not to exceed an additional $750, bringing the total cost to not to exceed $8,250.

“The GAAP auditor said they were going to need a few extra hours to finish the audit,” Teeters told the board. “They thought it was going to cost about another $750, so it needs to be approved.”

• The board approved a transfer from 401-7200-910-9720 Hillsboro Christian Academy, $35,950.82, to 401-5100-000-9721 Hillsboro Christian Academy, carryover from FY20; and a transfer from 401-7200-910-9820 St. Mary’s, $5,684.44, to 401-5100-000-9821 St. Mary’s, carryover from FY20.

• The board accepted the following donations: Ballentine Farms and Kroger, $50 each toward pumpkins for kindergarten students; Highland District Hospital, pizzas for HHS band members; and Joyce Mason, $90 toward books for kindergarten and first-grade students.

• Leaves of absence were approved for the following employees: Mike Holzknecht, maintenance, effective Nov. 18, 2020-Feb. 18, 2021; Melissa Mahan, aide, effective Nov. 3-Dec. 1; Karen O’Cull, cook, effective Nov. 6-Dec. 16; Stephanie Thompson, effective Nov. 17-Dec. 6; James Vaughn, custodian, effective Oct. 13, 2020-Jan. 5, 2021; and Dena VanDenBerg, aide, effective Sept. 29-Nov. 2.

• At the superintendent’s recommendation, the following early graduates were approved: Nevaeh Colville, Hannah Hall and Michelle Hensley.

• The board approved a $200 membership with SATH (Supplementary Assistance to the Handicapped), which will include two scholarship applications for special needs students.