Over a year after they first addressed the idea, the Benjamin Logan Local Schools officially have an armed response team. The school’s Board of Education approved the resolution to implement the team at their regular meeting on Monday, Aug. 21.
The 18 men and women who completed the required training will provide backup for the school resource officer (SRO) in each school. Team members will be paid $300 for the training. Some will have a concealed carry weapon while others will keep theirs in a safe. Every member also commits to additional training throughout the year.
“A lot of thought was put into how we can make our buildings safer,” Superintendent John Scheu stated. “It was decided to not only improve the safety of each school, but to have backup for the SROs. It’s one less thing for the students to worry about.”
Scheu specifically noted the mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic. Adding that to any news of a school shooting leads to “a lot of chatter” and puts the issue forefront on students’ minds. Knowing they have added protection should help ease that concern.
Another topic of note Monday was the new menu created by Stacie Newman, food service director. Newman considered favorite lunches in putting the menu together, which will be the same for each school. She created five weeks of lunches then color-coded them. Parents and students can now see what’s ahead meal-wise for the entire school year.
“Our school nurse is thrilled,” Colleen Bodin, elementary school principal, said. “It will make it easier for her to keep an eye on the diet of those with diabetic issues.”
The new menus will be passed out at the school’s open houses. Those are: Elementary: Thursday, Aug. 31, 5:30 – 7 p.m.; Middle: Wednesday, Aug. 30, 5 – 6:30 p.m. (fifth grade orientation/open house); and 6 – 7:30 p.m. (sixth, seventh and eighth grade orientation/open house); High: Tuesday, Aug. 29, 9 – 11 a.m. (grades 10 to 12 only), parking passes and Chromebook distribution; and Thursday, Aug. 31, 6 – 7:30 p.m. (grades 9 to 12 open house), includes freshman orientation and Chromebook distribution.
Other board action Monday night included:
• In a change of pace, the meeting began with audience participation. Katie Daniels of Belle Center expressed concern regarding the College Credit Plus (CCP) program. When teacher Andrea Fay was transferred to the middle school it left the high school without an instructor for the algebra CCP course.
• Though questions aren’t usually answered during the meeting, Scheu offered a response. He said they are working on a viable option for the 10 students in that class and plan to offer it again during the second semester.
• A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new track and turf will take place at around 6:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25. Afterward, the Benjamin Logan Raiders will face the West Liberty-Salem Tigers in the first football game of the season.
• Per policy 6680, the board affirmed the purchase of awards —$1,000 toward incentives for staff dissipation in the United Way workplace campaign and $1,250 for each school to go toward staff appreciation awards and events
• A contract with the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center was approved for a variety of services. This includes three supervisors who help determine resources and curriculum in three major areas—math, English language arts and science/social studies.
• The board also contracted services with the Logan County Sheriff’s Office for the school resource officers.
• To the relief of all three principals — who were in attendance Monday night —the board approved a contract with Perry Corporation for a 60-month copier lease with Perry ProTech. This will provide new copiers in all buildings plus an additional one in the elementary school. It also includes an upgrade to three copiers. The current copier lease expires this October.
• Elementary and middle school staff will have a new instructional resource from Curriculum Associates called i-Ready. At a cost of $56,213, i-Ready products, services and professional development for the 2023-2024 school year will replace the NWEA MAP Growth Assessments. This is seen as a significant improvement.
• ESSER expenditures totaling $78,000 will be divided between the three buildings and go toward 9-square, benches, concrete slabs and outdoor learning.
• Longevity and severance benefits for employees not covered by a collective bargaining agreement per board policy (fiscal year 2024) was approved.
• Jennifer Sudhoff’s contract as treasurer/CFO was extended until July 31, 2029.
• Likewise, Scheu’s contract as superintendent will now go through July 31, 2027. The board passed this 4-0-1, with Scott Spriggs abstaining.
• After approving the contract, Mark Himmeger, board president, presented Scheu with a plaque to commemorate his 50 years in education. His background includes coaching and teaching along with being an administrator and, now, a superintendent.
• The board agreed to an interest resolution for the track and field project.
• Michell Jones will be paid at step 2 secretary scale for clerical work in the transportation department; payment issues per hour, per timesheet as needed. John Forrest (maintenance) will receive $25 per hour/per timesheet as needed.
• New hire: Jeff Whatley, bus driver, step 0, on a one-year limited contract.
• An addendum to Beau Harmon’s contract supplies an additional 36 days (for a total of 260) beginning Aug. 1, 2023, until the end of the existing contract.
• The board approved a stipend in the amount of $1,000 to be paid to teachers who complete the Orton Gillingham Training. This money comes from ESSER for Learning Loss.
• ESC substitutes were also approved at the rate of $115 per day.
• Bus stops for the 2023-2024 school year, as recommended by the superintendent or designee were approved. The office reserves the right to revise the list during the year as necessary. Sudhoff reminded the board their district is the 16th largest in the state at 220 square miles.
• The following donations were accepted: a large supply of mat boards from Linda Larsen to the art departments district-wide, and $200 from the Belle Center United Presbyterian Church to the elementary school for students in need; the following volunteer coaches: Eric Nichols, middle school boys basketball; James Bramlage, girls high school golf.
The next meeting is 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18.