Columbiana moves ahead despite loss of teachers

COLUMBIANA – An exodus of teachers from the Columbiana School District before the new school year has not slowed the district from moving ahead with business as usual.

The board of education approved several new hires this week to replace the teachers who left the district for jobs elsewhere, and Superintendent Don Mook even said they had more applicants than jobs available.

He and the board did not comment on the exodus during the meeting, but Board President Mark Hutson said it seems to be a case of teachers just wanting to pursue other opportunities.

In early July the board accepted the resignations of four teachers: Cynthia Schnellbach, Benjamin Shaw, Gregory Kibler and Darcy Quinlan, and district parent Wendy Pancake cautioned them at that time more resignations would be coming if Mook and the board wasn’t willing to provide a little “give and take” with regard to teaching agreements.

Quinlan reportedly resigned after first attempting to receive a one-year leave of absence to pursue a master’s degree in adaptive physical education from Slippery Rock University.

Pancake said then that Quinlan was granted a full-ride scholarship to the university and the opportunity was not only good for her, but the Columbiana district as well, which would benefit from her additional education.

Quinlan was employed with the district two years as a health and physical education teacher at the middle and high schools and also held the head girls soccer coaching position. She resigned from both positions, although she did opt to continue with the soccer team on a volunteer basis, and the board approved that Tuesday evening.

Quinlan never attended the board meetings to provide her own input on the matter, and Pancake was not speaking for the other resignations that month, although she indicated Quinlan’s situation was an example of why teachers were leaving.

According to District Treasurer Lori Posey, Schnellbach left for a job with Girard City Schools and Shaw and Kibler both left for jobs with the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.

When asked how many teachers have left the district so far, Posey said she wasn’t sure, but agreed the loss is high compared to previous years.

Teachers hired on a one-year contract during the meeting to replace those who left have no prior employment with the district, she added.

They include:

– Jennifer Rogers as middle school gifted intervention specialist, Kyle Penrod as middle school science teacher, Jordan Graham as middle school math teacher, Richard Prescott Jr. as middle school science teacher, Mark Bush as high school health and physical education teacher and Cory Rudibaugh as high school math teacher.

– Other hires were Larry Baughman, elementary special education Title I aide, Jennifer Sloan, elementary school tutor and Julie Rambo and Rebecca Roller as substitute support staff.

– Athletic hires included replacing Darcy Quinlan with Shawn Kramer as head girls soccer coach, and awarding a supplemental contract to Ryan Wolf for the head baseball coaching position. Crystal Siembida-Boggs was also hired as head cross country coach.

“As with anything, people move on. But the greatest thing that has happened with all of this is … I feel complete confidence (in the new hires),” Board member Scott Caron said.

He added he was satisfied with all of their credentials and believes the district is putting together a “great team to continue the success.”

The next board meeting was set for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 9.