Board member wants more discussion

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Jefferson Local Board of Education member Wade Schneider wants his fellow board members to spend more time talking about issues and school policies during open meetings.

At the March 12 board meeting, Schneider said increased communication with taxpayers was a top priority for him when he was elected to the board. Progress has been made in that direction, he said, with the posting of meeting minutes on the district’s Web site. He wants more.

“There’s a lack of discussion during board meetings…We get a lot of information each week which would be good to talk about,” he said, suggesting as an example that the board set aside time at the April meeting to discuss fiscal management and purchasing policies.

Board President Ed Shepherd said the meeting format already includes time for such discussion under “Items of Interest and General Information.” He admitted, though, that the board hasn’t used it that way much during his time on the board. He recommended time limits for such discussions.

Board member Dave Harper suggested the board schedule work sessions to cover topics that don’t involve a board vote.

Board member Meg Hiss said, “I don’t know that a board meeting is the appropriate place to discuss policy issues,” saying the discussions could be lengthy. She said meetings should be saved for the most pertinent items of board business.

Along the lines of increased communication, Harper added that the board should adopt Roberts Rules of Order for conducting meetings. For each item of business on the agenda, the rules would require a board member to make a motion, another to second it, and the board president to open the topic to discussion before a vote is taken.

The board will consider the possibilities at its next meeting.

Curbs, zoning, drainage

Jerry Miller, West Jefferson’s building and zoning inspector, informed the board of concerns the village has regarding school property.

He said broken curbs along at least 100 feet of new sidewalk in front of the high school and middle school need to be repaired. Public Service Director Harold Walker said the broken curb presents a safety issue for pedestrians.

On behalf of the West Jefferson Police Department, Miller said two parcels of ground on both sides of the high school/middle school campus have yet to be annexed into the village. The parcels, one of which is home to a parking lot and the other to a multipurpose building, are owned by the school district. Until they are annexed, the police department does not have jurisdiction to handle any problems that arise there.

Miller also said mounded earth and a tree row on the west side of Norwood Elementary have created a dam that traps drainage off of residential lots on Danbury Road, creating swamp-like conditions after rains.

“You need to have a natural place for the surface water to go,” Miller said, suggesting that modifications be made so that the water drains into a nearby village catch basin.

Jefferson Local Schools Superintendent William Mullett said the board will discuss how to fix the sidewalk and annex the land. Mullett also said he will look into whether the drainage issue requires contact with the architectural firm involved in Norwood’s addition or the general contractor who did the work.

Employment

The board approved the employment of West Jefferson resident Christine Elkins as the district’s food services director. Her two-year contract will start on Aug. 1. She replaces longtime district employee Sharyn Yoder.

“Christine is an outstanding candidate,” Mullett said, noting that the job attracted many applicants.

He also commented, “With much regret, we would like to say goodbye to Sharyn Yoder…West Jefferson owes a real debt of gratitude to Sharyn.”

The board accepted the resignations of Jena Abbott as Norwood intervention teacher and Amy Sigman as assistant middle school track coach. Jennifer Garner is taking Sigman’s place.

In addition to Garner, volunteer JV softball coach Joseph Rhoades, assistant high school track coach CeJay Blevins, and elementary art show advisor Sandy Henry each received one-year extracurricular contracts.

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