Board reevaluates role in youth football; gets update on sale of building

By: Melanie Williamson

The Vermilion Board of Education met on Monday, October 9, for a regular meeting.

Students of the month: The Vermilion Elementary students of the month, who attended the school board meeting were given the opportunity to introduce themselves and what they wanted to be when they grew up. They then led the meeting in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The September students of the month were Lillian Adkins, Landon Booker, Jacob Dawson, Alexa Guiter, Addison Johnson, Aubree Lalonde, Aavah Moore, Evan Pisano, Sean Rini, Gabriella Stout, Gracie Booker, Grace Brown, Kirra Gabriel, Jacob Herchler, Lillian Kwasny, Mason McFadden, Isaiah Phelps, Destiny Pittner, Madelyn Smith, and Ryan Taylor.

Sailorway assistant principal Bobby Figuly showed a video featuring the September students of the month at Sailorway. He explained that they choose three students from each grade level as students of the month, and they are chosen through teacher nominations. They look for students that are demonstrating character and academic excellence. As a reward, the students get a movie with popcorn, five passes to go to the front of the lunch line, and their photos are put up in the main hallway of the school.

New journalism class: Sailorway principal Beth Bartlome introduced Kayleigh Singer, who told the school board about her experience in the new journalism class being offered at Sailorway. She shared that they are preparing a monthly newspaper that includes school news, weather, sports updates, and announcements. They are also creating a weekly video newsletter. They are using the green screen set up by Mr. Gabe Caudill last school year for those videos. The class is split in two groups with one group working on the newspaper and the second group working on the video newsletter and the groups switch every four and a half weeks, so all of the students have the opportunity to work on both the video newsletter and the newspaper. Bartlome played one of the video newsletters for the school board.

Legislative Update: Board member Sara Stepp updated the board on Senate Bill 196. The bill is currently before the Senate judicial committee. If passed, this bill would make aggravated bullying a third degree misdemeanor.

New second grade teacher: Superintendent Phil Pempin introduced Katie Baily, the newest teacher at Vermilion Elementary School. Baily addressed the board sharing that she graduated two years ago. She did her student teaching at Vermilion. She then taught in Huron for half a year before taking a substitute position at Vermilion Elementary School just days before the start of the school year. She expressed her excitement and her appreciation for the opportunity to teach at VES.

Youth football program: Superintendent Pempin addressed the board regarding the youth football program. Last year, the district joined forces with the city rec department and the YMCA to create a single youth football program that would carry athletes from touch football all the way through high school football.

Each entity had a clear role within this agreement, and part of the district’s role was to streamline the payment of athletic fees, take donations, and pay out the purchase orders for the program. Basically, the district was to handle all the financials for the league.

Pempin stated that some issues were arising with the financials for the league that were not good for the district. There were mistakes being made and after speaking with the district’s attorney, it was advised that the district should not handle the finances for this league. With that recommendation, Pempin is proposing to the board that the district return what they currently have in donations to the city rec department. However, Pempin stated that he could not get ahold of anyone with the rec department prior to the meeting, so it was going to need to be put off until the next board meeting.

Board president Shelly Innes wanted to make it clear that the mistakes being made were not on the part of the district, the district treasurer, or the finance department. There were issues with the purchase orders being submitted that were beyond the control of the finance department, which made it a problem for the district. Pempin agreed stated that when it comes to school finances, there are audits that demand perfection, so as a district, they cannot risk problems due to the youth football program.

When asked what this meant for the youth football league and the district’s participation in it, Pempin replied that he wasn’t sure. He needed to meet with the others involved and work it out. He went on to say that it is a good program and it was a great idea, the district just needs to follow the advice of their attorney and cannot be in charge of the finances for the league.

Sale of building: Pempin brought up the sale of the old elementary school building, which has been held up for some time. The district has been waiting on East Ohio Gas to come out and separate the gas line connecting the buildings, so each building is on its own gas line and meter. There have been multiple ongoing attempts to contact the gas company and to get confirmation of when the work will be done. Pempin reported that they received a verbal commitment that the district would receive a letter stating the line will be separated, sot eh district could move ahead with the sale. However, they have not yet received that letter. Pempin showed obvious frustrating when stating he felt they were “being held hostage” by Columbia Gas because they cannot put the building up for auction until either the line is separated or they have a commitment letter stating the line will be separated. Pempin stated that even if he has to go sit in their office until they provide the letter, he will do what he needs to do to get a resolution, so they can get the building ready for sale.

Drones: Board member Mike Stark shared that someone mentioned to him there was a drone flying over the field during the band festival. He was concerned about the safety of there being a drone during school events and suggested the board look into possible policy regarding the use of drones. Pempin stated that there is a company that uses a drone to take aerial photos, and it could have been them, but he was not sure.

Future meeting dates: There is a special meeting scheduled for Monday, October 30. The next regular meeting will be Monday, November 20. All meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the high school unless otherwise noted.

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