London board OKs salary increases

On July 21, the London Board of Education put its stamp of approval on salary increases for various staff members.

The list included the board’s negotiated agreement with the Ohio Association of Public Schools Employees, the union that represents classified staff in the district. The contract includes an annual 2 percent increase for three years. The contract became effective July 1 and will run through June 30, 2011.

The board also approved 2 percent salary increases for 2008-09 for: Pam Wilson, transportation supervisor; Rochelle Wilson, food services coordinator; Dennis Long, head mechanic; Steve Browning, maintenance and grounds supervisor; Pete Bartkowiak, London Academy director; Tim Keib, London High School principal; Steve Ladd, technology coordinator; Kim Pareso, director of special services; and Tony Brake, London Elementary assistant principal.

Two percent increases also went to: Kim Burget, EMIS coordinator; Mary Rumpz, student services coordinator; Pauletta Brown, superintendent’s secretary; Dana Topper, accounting specialist; and Carmen Holland, payroll/benefits specialist.

In other personnel issues, the board entered into executive session to discuss the superintendent’s contract. The three-hour session also covered a land swap with the City of London.

Special Education

Superintendent Steve Allen reported that the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) Division of Special Education has completed its review of the district’s special education programs.

ODE selected London for focused monitoring because the district’s special education students scored below the state average on state tests. Two ODE staff members met with school leaders periodically over the last 18 months.

Allen said the district has complied with all of ODE’s requests for changes, which include placing more special education students in general education classrooms and providing differentiated instruction to meet the needs of individual students.

Research shows that special education students perform better when regular edu-cation teachers take responsibility for their instruction with assistance and support from intervention specialists, Allen said. This represents a shift in thinking and procedure, which previously put the responsi-bility on special education teachers.

Public Participation

In the public participation portion of the meeting, Bob Smith, a former London City Schools assistant superintendent, ad-dressed the board with several concerns.

Among them were the resignations of several school administrators in the last two years, including Jeff Thompson, high school principal, Mike Wilson, assistant high school principal, Mark Elliott, middle school principal, Bob Blackburn, special education coordinator, Kurt Wirz, building and grounds supervisor, Herb Samuel, Deer Creek principal, and Mindy Jennings, school psychologist.

“I know why I resigned, but I don’t know why these others have resigned,” Smith said, complimenting those on the list for contributing to the district’s academic achievements.

In a phone interview the day after the meeting, Allen said of the resignations, “People make choices.”

When an organization makes system changes, some people go with them and some don’t. “We are making massive changes,” Allen said.

The superintendent also noted that none of the people Smith mentioned were fired; all of them resigned. The district wishes no ill-will toward them, Allen said; in fact, the district’s administrators have helped many of them find other jobs by serving as references.

Smith also criticized the district’s graduation rate, test scores, and handling of the Somerford school property sale.

Recycling Ideas

Valerie Peart, whose two children are London Elementary students, talked to the board about recycling. She noted that the district already recycles paper as a fundraiser, but said the district should add plastics to the list.

The district could cut down on its trash simply by recycling staff members’ water bottles and the milk jugs that come with student lunches, she said.

Peart has talked to Allen and board member Melissa Canney about the idea, but the district has not moved on the suggestion, she said.

“Without the support of the board, I’m not going anywhere,” said Peart, who as an individual interested in recycling has taken it upon herself to research ways the district could make the idea happen.

Peart said she talked to Mike Hopkins at London Industries, a local manufacturer that recycles a large volume of materials, including plastics, through Montgomery Paper in Dayton. Peart suggested that the district look into partnering with London Industries in some way.

Eventually, Peart said the district also should recycle corrugated cardboard and poly-styrofoam (the material used to make disposable lunch trays).

The London school board’s next meeting is at 7 p.m. Aug. 18.

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