London board focuses on employees

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 “It’s all about personnel this week,” said Superintendent Steve Allen as the London Board of Education delved into its July 17 meeting agenda.

A retire/rehire request from kindergarten teacher Leesa Hisem prompted discussion of the need for a standard procedure to handle such requests.

Educators can now officially retire in order to start receiving retirement benefits, then be rehired on a one-year contract to continue working. The contract is reconsidered annually.

The London board previously approved retire/rehire requests from Terry Nance, athletic director at the high school, and Carol Daniels, elementary principal. Hisem’s is the first request from a teacher.

“The concept itself, I have no problem with,” said board member Eric Schooley. His desire is for a policy that will allow the board to treat retire/rehire requests the same each time. Currently, the board is handling requests as they come, learning as they go.

Allen offered to write a procedure that will provide uniformity to the process until a new contract is negotiated and put into effect with the teachers’ union. He noted that in many Franklin County school districts, building administrators and the superintendent decide if a retire/rehire request should be recommended for board approval.

In other personnel issues, Allen said hiring across the board has gone well in preparation for next school year.

“This is obviously the most important thing we do” with the most impact on students, he said. The quality of applicants for all positions, teaching or not, has been high, thus raising the bar for the education the district delivers, he added.

The only jobs that remained open as of last week were for a special education director, one in-school suspension aide at the high school, and two maintenance staffers.

Recent hirings include:

• Stephen Browning as maintenance supervisor;

• Teresa A. Powell as building secretary at the middle and high schools;

• Elizabeth Gleim, Kathryn Adorno and Amanda Cooper as intervention specialists;

• Joseph Watson as seventh- and eighth-grade language arts/reading teacher;

• Tisha C. Welday as high school science teacher;

• Michelle Manning as school health aide;

• Julie McFarland and Darren Long as co-athletic directors at the middle school; and

• Julie McFarland as seventh-grade volleyball coach and Jessica Toms as assistant girls soccer coach.

The board also approved 3 percent raises for the 2007-08 school year for Kim Burgert, Pauletta Brown, Dana Topper, Carmen Holland, Pam Wilson, Rochelle Wilson, Dennis Long, Mindy Jennings and Steve Ladd. The board approved 1 percent raises for Mark Elliott, Tony Brake and Mike Wilson.

Grade Switch Update

Progress continues on the pre-kindergarten/kindergarten and sixth-grade location swap. Middle School Principal Mark Elliott’s report noted that incoming sixth-grade students chose a new name for what once served as the primary school. Their choice: “London Middle School-6.”

Teachers have started setting up rooms at the sixth-grade-only building. Whiteboards have been hung and rooms have been cleaned. Elliott is ordering safety gates for placement in the alley when students walk between buildings on the Walnut Street campus.

Daniels’ report stated that all pre-kindergarten and kindergarten staff members have started setting up their classrooms at the elementary school, rooms formerly occupied by sixth-graders. She said it has been an “efficient” move.

Off Fiscal Watch

District Treasurer Britt Lewis announced that the Ohio Department of Education recently sent a letter releasing London City Schools from fiscal watch. He also noted that the state will begin a regular audit in September.

The next regular London school board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Aug. 20 in the high school lecture room.

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