School board recognizes students’ excellence, receives project updates

By: Melanie Williamson

National History Day: Sailorway students worked in teams to prepare projects for National History Day. The goal of these projects is for students to learn about a topic in-depth and then be able to share this new found knowledge with others. Each student group chose the topic they wanted to learn about and then created presentations based on their research. Additionally, students are judged on their final projects and have the opportunity to compete against students from other districts that also participate in National History Day.

Legislative updates: Recently Ohio State Representatives Andrew Brenner and Marilyn Slaby introduced House Bill 58 which would require “handwriting instruction in kindergarten through fifth grade to ensure that students develop the ability to print letters and words legibly by third grade and to create readable documents using legible cursive handwriting by the end of fifth grade.” There are seven other states already making cursive part of the mandatory curriculum.

Ohio House Bill 37 has also been recently proposed and would require the Ohio School Facilities Commission to establish a program assisting school districts in purchasing technology and making physical alternations to improve technology infrastructure and school safety and security. Both of these proposed bills are currently being monitored as they will have a direct impact on Vermilion Local Schools if passed.

Tennis courts: Superintendent Phil Pempin reported that there will be a pre-bid meeting on Wednesday for companies interested in the job. This will give them an opportunity to look at the plans prepared by the architects and to clear up any questions they may have about the project. It will then be open for bids on Thursday, March 30. Pempin stated that once they have a clear price on what the project will cost, they will look into sponsorship and possible naming rights to help cover the cost of the project.

Board member Michael Stark asked if the project included parking. Pempin responded that parking will be in the alternative proposal package. One proposal will be just the cost of resurfacing the tennis courts, which is clearly needed. The alternative proposal will include lights, parking, resurfacing the basketball courts, and adding a bocce ball court. From there, the district will go with what can be afforded. Pempin stated he believes this will be a “fantastic community resource.”

Science wing: Superintendent Pempin also shared that they are currently working on putting together what needs to be done to finish upgrading the science wing so that they can get prices on that project. Last year, the chemistry lab was gutted and rebuilt providing new workstations, more storage, and upgraded safety features such as a new fume hood and sprinkler system.

Stadium parking lot lighting: The board approved a bid of $13,776.62 from Sattelight Electric to install lighting in the stadium parking lot. During the discussion, board president Shelly Innes asked if installing the lights was a safety issue, to which Pempin replied they believed it was. Oates asked if there were grants available to pay for this project. Pempin replied that while there weren’t grants for this specific project, the operations department has applied for a couple of grants for projects that they are just waiting to hear back on. Board member Stark asked if the lights would need to be moved in the future if the lot is paved. Pempin replied no and explained that the lights will be LED with round cement bases like the light sin the other parking lots so that the lot could be paved around them. According to Pempin, there will be a total of three lights going down the center, which are expected to light the entire lot.

Student recognition: As part of the superintendent’s report, Pempin took the time to recognize the many students, teachers, and coaches throughout the district that have accomplished great things over the previous weeks. This included the girls and boys bowling teams along with the boys varsity basketball team all of whom were SBC champions. Coach Kurt Habermehl was named Division II Coach of the Year.

The Winter Guard came in first place in competitions held in late February and Early March. Kylie Gwynn placed 8th in Ohio in Student Congress. Tyler Bath qualified for state wrestling. Molly Wade became the State Champion Archer for the Ohio Archers Association. The 4×200 and 4×400 girls indoor track relay teams had the opportunity to compete at state placing 9th and 17th respectively. The grade 6 and 7 band scored 1 and 2 in the Lorain County Solo and Ensemble Contest, and Chorale scored a 1 at the District Band and Choir competition.

Vermilion Youth Football: The board voted to approve multiple donations made to the newly created Vermilion Youth Football League totaling $850. The donations were from the Vermilion Lions Club, Erie Shores Contracting LLC, Vermilion Taverns, Inc., and Bonnie Meyer.

Transportation for Speech and Debate National Tournament: After hearing presentations by members of the speech and debate team, who recently competed at the state level, Pempin brought the issue of transportation for the national tournament to the board’s attention. He explained that in past years, the district covering the cost of transportation depending on the location of the tournament and the associated costs.

He went on to say that the speech and debate students have worked hard and are an exceptional group of students, who have also paid the participation fee. Based on this Pempin asserted that Mr. Snook, the Speech and Debate coach has requested the district cover the cost of transportation to Birmingham, Alabama for the students that have qualified to compete at nationals. Pempin went on to say that Mr. Snook has stated they will do fundraising to cover the cost of lodging, food, and other expenses. They are only requesting the cost of actual transportation.

Board member Chris Habermehl asked Snook if he was sure he would be able to get the rest of the expenses covered. Snook responded, “I will do everything in my power to cover costs. I don’t want my kids to have to pay to be recognized for being excellent.”

There was some discussion among board members and Pempin regarding insurance issues and whether or not they would need to take a personal vehicle or a school van. Pempin stated he would look into it, but he believes they may be able to use a school van because one of the parents going is also an administrator for the district.

The board members agreed they did not have an issue with paying for transportation, but they wanted to know what the cost would be first along with what vehicle would be used, and how it would work with the insurance. Pempin and Snook agreed to have the needed information collected before the next board meeting, and the board agreed to vote on it then.

Consent agenda issues: Each month the board votes to approve a consent agenda, which includes several items that require board approval such as payments being made, fundraisers, and employment action. After the consent agenda had been read, Habermehl brought up an ongoing problem that items are not being added to the consent agenda when they need to be. He cited the fact that several of the employment actions that were currently on the consent agenda were already done. Meaning teachers and coaches that were taking on additional duties were already in the positions working when the additional work contract had not yet been approved by the board. He asserted this has been an ongoing problem and it needs to change.

Board member Nancy Oates added that the fundraisers have gotten better in that of the fundraisers they were voting to approve, only one had already happened. In the past, the board has voted to approve fundraisers that had already happened because they had not been added to the consent agenda in a timely manner.



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