WB board reorganizes, with discussion

BELOIT–The West Branch school board Thursday night approved several routine actions during its organizational meeting, but not without some discussion.

The board elected Mikki Kanagy as president. She is in her eighth year on the board.

The board also elected John Wallace as vice president, but Courtney Stryffeler also received a nomination for the position. Wallace won three votes to two. Lori McLaughlin, who has served the past two years as president, also received a nomination, but no one seconded it, so she was not included in the vote.

Also at the meeting, the board approved compensation for board members at $125 per meeting, for up to 20 meetings. Stryffeler, however, asked if the board could discuss the compensation, which is the maximum a board member can receive.

School Treasurer David Drawl said to change the compensation the board would have to do so before Jan. 1 and the change would only affect newly elected or re-elected members since compensation cannot be changed during an elected official’s term. Drawl also noted that compensation can include up to a total of $5,000 in compensation per board member.

Additionally the board established a board service fund of $15,000, but Stryffeler voted against it, questioning the need to have so much money reserved in the General Fund for the board and suggesting the fund be set at $6,500. Other board members responded that the board never uses the full $15,000 and Kanagy added she feels it is good to have it there even if it is not being used.

Other action included authorizing the superintendent to fill all vacancies, serve as purchasing agent for the district and dispose of obsolete equipment and materials as required; retaining the law firms of Roetzel and Andress, Ennis Britton Co. LPA and Bricker & Eckler LLP as independent legal counsel in educational matters on an as needed basis; and approving Drawl as board designee for public records training as required and records officer on behalf of the board for 2019.

The board also approved the appointment of committee representatives and hearing officer as follows: John Wallace as legislative liaison, Courtney Stryffeler as student achievement liaison, Stryffeler and Wallace to athletic, Wallace to the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center board, Wallace and Mikki Kanagy to technology, Stryffeler and Karen Rice to building and grounds, Rice and McLaughlin to calendar, McLaughlin and Kanagy to safety, McLaughlin and Rice to policy and Kanagy as Free and Reduced Lunch Program hearing officer.

The board agreed to continue to meet at 7:30 p.m. the last Thursday each month in the high school library, unless otherwise noted, with a public work session at 6 p.m. in the high school library. The work sessions were originally scheduled to be held in the high school conference room, but Stryffeler asked that they be held in the library and Kanagy agreed.

Also at the meeting, but unrelated to re-organization, a resident questioned how many students have moved out of the district since the start of the new year when the state minimum transportation took effect, noting that he had heard an estimate of zero to 30.

Board members did not know the student turnover thus far, but schools Superintendent Timothy Saxton confirmed the zero to 30 estimate, although he explained that the number includes students moving into the district as well and that there is a “myriad of reasons” for students leaving, not necessarily due to the reduced transportation and the corresponding altered school schedule.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 in the high school library, preceded by a public work session at 6 p.m in the high school library.