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Plans for free student meals, new soccer bleachers discussed at Hillsboro school board meeting

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Pictured (l-r) are Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education members Tom Milbery, Beverly Rhoads, Bill Myers, Jerry Walker, Larry Lyons and Maddisen Mikkelsen. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Caitlin Forsha, The Highland County Press

Along with recognizing numerous district accomplishments, members of the Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education took action on some exciting developments at their Monday, May 20 meeting, including moving forward on plans to institute free meals and to seek bids for additional athletic complex upgrades.

To read about the accomplishments highlighted at the meeting, see the story and photos at….

According to district treasurer Ben Teeters, all Hillsboro City Schools students will be eligible for free meals for the next four years. In response, the board made several related approvals, including the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) which entails providing no-cost lunch or breakfast to all students.

“This is a program that our food service director got us contracted for, and we're eligible for free lunches and breakfasts for every student over the next four years,” Teeters said, adding that this includes everything but a la carte items and is open to all students regardless of income eligibility.

The board approved revised food service prices for the 2024-25 school year, with first meals to be at no cost and second meals to include $3 for lunch and $2.50 for breakfast for HS/MS; $2.50 for lunch for the elementary; and 50 cents for extra milk. Adult lunch is $4.50, and adult breakfast is $2.50. 

The district policy 8531, Free and Reduced-Price Meals, was revised and approved. 

The board also signed off on the National School Lunch/Breakfast Program and Smart Snack Program, which Teeters said is so the district can “participate in these programs offered by the government.”

In unrelated action, the board approved a proposal for soccer stadium bleachers using the Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing Solutions for the bidding process. According to superintendent Tim Davis, the proposal will add 300-seat bleachers to the visitors’ side at the Hillsboro High School soccer complex.

“We had some money that was gifted to us for the use of whatever we needed to do, and we wanted to improve that facility on the other side,” Davis said. “They will be identical to the home side and the bleachers that are at the baseball/softball [fields], so elevated with the ramp for ADA compliance.”

This is the latest of continuing upgrades to the facility, as the high school debuted its new baseball/softball stadium this spring. As previously reported, in July 2022, the HCS board authorized the $2.7 million purchase of artificial turf and its installation through Southwestern Ohio Education Purchasing Council from The Motz Group, LLC, upgrading the soccer field to a turf field and installing turf baseball and softball infields at the HHS athletic complex.

In other discussion: 

• In her final report to the board before graduating this weekend, student board representative Maddisen Mikkelsen spoke briefly about several of the activities seniors have been enjoying in their last few weeks at HHS. That included a baccalaureate service held May 19.

“It went very, very well,” Mikkelsen said. “We owe a huge thank you to the Ministerial Association, who helped us put it all together; the symphonic choir, who performed; the Church of Christ, who led us in worship; our administration for letting us continue to do the baccalaureate service; and for Ms. Asmus and Ms. Haines. They have been a huge help working with not only the senior class officers, but baccalaureate as well.”

That service was followed by a “senior sunrise” on May 19, where the class of 2024 enjoyed a breakfast together, then walked through the school. 

Superintendent Tim Davis

“We walked through all the halls of the high school and the middle school today as a class, which was really, really sweet,” Mikkelsen said. “People had a lot of fun doing it.” 

The seniors were then looking forward to a class trip to Kings Island May 20 and graduation May 26, she added. 

Mikkelsen will be attending Heidelberg University this fall, as she has also signed a letter of intent to join the college’s stunt and cheer team. 

• In his report, Davis noted that in response to an article (published in The Highland County Press) regarding retiring TJ Turner’s number, “an athletic committee meeting” will be held to discuss the matter. (For more, see:….)

• Board member Larry Lyons said that he sat in on two classes recently: Tina Jensen’s fourth grade science class, with an electricity demonstration, and Cody Mathews’s high school elective Vietnam War history class, which featured a session with local veteran Phil Roush.

In legislative updates, Lyons said talks have centered around “school financing and a few other things, mostly concerning taxes and property values and CAUV,” but “no action” has been taken yet.

• Board member Beverly Rhoads reported on the May 8 Great Oaks Board of Directors meeting, which included announcements of honors of Scarlet Oaks counselor Courtney Brooks, who earned the Great Oaks Career Campus Educator of the Year Award; Blanchester ag instructor Eric Heeg, who won the Southern Ohio ESC Outstanding Educator Award and the 2024 Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator Award for 14 State Support Team; and the Blanchester-Great Oaks FFA, which earned the Southern Ohio ESC’s Exceptional Achievement Award. 

In addition, Great Oaks earned the state’s 2023 CareerTechnical Planning District Overall 5-Star Award. while the Great Oaks Business Office received the Ohio Auditor of State Award with Distinction for the 2023 fiscal year.

Other Great Oaks updates included approvals of the Adult Workforce Development Student Handbook and Salary Committee recommendations for non-teaching positions, as well as a review of upcoming senior ceremonies and other important dates.

“The Laurel Oaks graduation senior ceremony was held out at Southern State this year,” Rhoads said. “It was an impressive ceremony and went rather quickly, but they had between 300 and 400 graduates. The Southern State campus was completely filled.”

• The board approved the five-year forecast as presented by Teeters. As noted by the treasurer, the board approves these forecasts each spring and fall.

The current figures show the district in the black until 2028, with unreserved year-end fund balances estimated at $8,073,786 for fiscal year 2024; $6,243,380 in 2025; $4,003,683 in 2026; and $1,209,642 in 2027. In fiscal year 2028, Teeters has the district in the red by $1,796,099, “if revenues do not increase.

“I flat-lined the state monies,” he said. “I anticipate that the state will give us more money going through, and therefore they will bring that category out of the red.”

District treasurer Ben Teeters. Also pictured is student board representative Maddisen Mikkelsen.

Some of the changes in his calculations as explained by Teeters were reducing the restricted state grants-in-aid line item due to changes “in some of our career tech functions,” so the money “won’t be involved in the general fund” anymore. The high school auditorium will be paid off by 2028, with loan payments then decreasing by about $700,000.

• The board also accepted the financial reports as presented by the treasurer. Teeters reported a general fund cash balance of $12,961,263 for April 2024, up from $8,720,409 in April 2023; expenses of $2,576,577, up from $2,286,452 a year ago; and revenues of $7,033,195, up from $4,808,935 last year.

“The revenue was up because we received our real estate tax settlement in the month,” Teeters said. “Other than that, things are running on an even keel compared to what we had last year.”

• The board accepted the following resignations: custodian Gary Garvie (effective May 31); teachers Chaise Hall (May 9) and Brian Hughes, Gabrielle Lochbaum, Ashley Pollock and Garrett Ross (all end 2023-24 school year); paraprofessionals Kirsten Harp (end 2023-24 school year) and Beverly Hottle (end 2023-24 school year, due to retirement); counselor Susan Rhoads (end 2023-24 school year); school psychologists Kayleigh Robinson and Lola Royalty (end 2023-24 school year); and food services director Jessica Walker (end 2023-24 contract year).

• The board approved a lengthy list of individuals for various contracts and positions. Those include the following employees for the Summer Food Service Program at $17.44 per hour: Ronna Achor, Melissa Boysel, Penny Carter, Karen Fraley, Chad Haynie, Sherri Holland, Hannah Hopkins, Lili Hunt, Ryan Hurtt, Melissa Mahan, Emma McGuire, Jamie McRill, Jessica Messer, Susan Rhoads, Verona Roush, Catrina Snider, Marybeth Sonner, Stephanie Thompson, Amy Vance, Carol Waits, Katie Watson and Jennifer Wilson; SFSP Sponsor Manager Monitor Ladonna Davis, at a rate of $4,500; 2024-25 administrator Robert MacLeod, principal, two-year contract; one-year contracts for counselors Reagan Malblanc and Mercedes Reese and teachers Bernadette Attinger, Quinten Cox, Madison Crouch (Klaiss), Lydia Falgner, Tiffany Gelter, Breanna Harp, Heather Mathews, Hunter Morgan, Olivia Page, Trista Rhodes, David Sedivy, Matt Sexton, Rebecca Smith, Marissa Stone and Laura Wolf; two-year contracts for teachers Lauren Purtee, Ryan Reilly, Shania Setty and Lindsey Wagner; three-year contracts for teachers Jenna Allen, Paige Anderson, Melissa Boysel, Stacia Burke, Kim Fouch, Todd Griffin and Sandy Kniffley; continuing contracts for teachers Hannah Barnett, Danielle Bice, Courtney Daniels, Tobi Stevens, Kristen Wait and Shannon Wright; 2024-25 supplemental contracts, including MS girls basketball coaches J.C. Captain and Larry Scruggs, MS volleyball coaches Lehua Cooke and Bruce Messer, HS assistant boys varsity basketball coach Chris Fauber, HS assistant girls varsity basketball coach Ben Fouch, HS reserve girls basketball coach Jake Fouch, HS varsity boys soccer coach Ben Howland, HS varsity volleyball coach Heather Jones, HS reserve boys basketball coach Blake Kibler, HS reserve volleyball coach Jessica Messer, HS varsity girls soccer coach Amanda Miller, MS boys basketball coaches Lawton Parry and Dustin Willey, HS reserve boys soccer coach Dan Snapp, HS assistant girls soccer coach Samantha Whitenack and HS assistant volleyball coach Jordan Williamson; and the following staff members for Orton Gillingham training at $35 per hour, up to 35 hours: Colleen Barney, Elena Cullom, Mary Lee Daugherty, Kirsten Harp, Heather Murphy, Trista Rhodes, Kristin Wait and Shannon Wright. 

As noted by Davis, MacLeod was in attendance at Monday’s meeting and has been hired as the new principal for second and third grades. He replaces Jacob Zink, who resigned in April.

The board greeted and welcomed MacLeod, as board member Jerry Walker also addressed him in his report.

“I think you might get a sense that the standard’s pretty high,” Walker said. “I’m confident that you will meet those standards.”

• Changes of status were approved for the following individuals for the 2024-25 school year: Tiffany Gelter, from MA+15 to MA+30; and Rebecca Johnson, Megan MacIvor and Mercedes Reese, from BA+150 to MA.

• The board accepted leaves of absence for teachers Danielle Bice (effective Aug. 7-Oct. 14) and Pam Harp (April 9-May 21) and bus driver Kurt Marler (April 24-May 6).

• The board accepted a client services agreement with Soliant Health, LLC for continued school psychology services.

“Soliant is the online school psychologist that we are using through the high school/middle school,” Davis said. “It is basically a virtual service, telehealth, through Soliant with a licensed school psychologist, licensed in the state of Ohio. We're having a shortage right now of school psychs, so we did it this year, and we had good results, so we are re-upping again for next year.”

• The board approved the following early graduates: Summer Foster, Scott Fulkerson Jr., Ryan Greene, Ezra Guthrie, Joseph Hatley and Zechariah Humphrey.

• John Phillip Hawkins was approved as a class of 2024 graduate.

• The board approved the 2024-25 preschool handbook.

“There’s not a whole lot of changes,” Davis said. “We are trying to fill our slots with the ECE [Early Childhood Education] grant dealing with a sliding scale, and then students that are in need, so we can try to fill those slots. We applied for a grant application, so we're trying to get as many students as we can to fill up our preschool.”

• The board approved a service agreement with Hamilton County ESC starting Aug. 1, 2024 and ending July 31, 2025 for school staff professional development. Davis said this is “for assistive technology for students with special needs for the district, dealing with different communication devices for our staff to use and to try out during the school year.”

• The board accepted the following donations: for the HS Science Club Science Showcase, Big Ernie’s ($250), Burwinkel Family Dentistry ($150), Cummings Cattle ($150), Highland Lanes ($50), Horne Law Office ($250), Ann Burwinkel-McKenzie and Mark McKenzie ($250), Papa Johns ($250), Timber Lane Sporting Goods ($150), Weastec Inc. ($250), Julie Weisner ($500), White’s Bakery ($50) and Wilkin-Wilkin Insurance ($100); for robotics,  Clinton and Marcy Boyd ($50), Buckeye Dentistry ($150), Custom Molded Products LLC ($500), Diversified Aluminum Works ($250), Marc and Sheri Duckwall ($100), Judge Kevin Greer and family ($500), Hillsboro Elks Lodge ($500), Dr. Lesia Langston-McKenna DMD ($250), TC Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning ($150), Weastec Inc. ($250), Wilkin-Wilkin Insurance ($200), World Resource Solutions Corp. ($500) and Fred and Barbara Yochum ($200); and for student cafeteria charges, Max Sprague of Ohio Car Shows of Cruise Ins and Frisch’s Big Boy ($230). 

“We're very grateful to the community for their continued support, and especially for our sciences and robotics,” board president Bill Myers said. “Those have been tremendous programs here in our district, and we're very proud of those. It's nice to see the community come out and support those.”

• The board approved the Worker’s Compensation Group Plan for calendar year 2025 with Sedgwick. The contract fee is $1,910 — “about $300 higher than last year,” Teeters said — with an estimated worker’s compensation premium of $54,463.

• In two different motions, the board approved a contract with the Miami Valley Educational Computer Association (MVECA) for July 1, 2024-June 30, 2025; and a purchase sales agreement with MVECA for broadband internal connections, effective March 5, for $177,445.

• The board approved a motion to use the Set Balance Year-End Program to set appropriations to expenditures.

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