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EL school board welcomes new member, celebrates veteran

The East Liverpool school board practices what they preach, as they pose for a group portrait at the end of Thursday’s meeting. From left, Mario Hernandez, the board’s new vice president; Matt Handley, president; board members Pat Persohn, Tamar Cooper and Larry Walton. (Photo by Stephanie Ujhelyi)

EAST LIVERPOOL — Thursday was a very special night for the city’s school board, as there were three swearing-ins and one award presentation on the agenda’s action.

Reno Contipelli, the regional manager for the Ohio School Boards Association’s northeast Ohio, was in attendance, to present three awards to Larry Walton, who currently is Columbiana County’s longest serving board member with the death earlier this year of Wellsville’s Tom Brophey.

He presented Walton an award for his 15 years of service as a board member; Northeast Ohio board member of the year; and the 2020 Award of Achievement, which was his 10th and earned him a pin for that achievement.

Out of 19 counties and 225 schools in the northeast Ohio region, Contipelli explained that Walton’s achievement was not an easy task. After all, out of 3,500 board members, half of them don’t run for a second term let alone receive a Board of Achievement award one time.

For example, only one in 50 achieve that milestone.

And, the fact that Walton earned his Northeast Ohio board member of the year honor unanimously makes it even more special.

Contipelli called Walton his go-to guy in regards to the legislature.

As the board’s most senior member was getting kudos, new board member Tamar Cooper was sitting at her first board meeting, after being sworn in earlier by Anson Wiegand.

In some reorganizational business, the board decided that vice president Matt Handley, who had been serving as interim president, should have that job permanently. He also was sworn in by Wiegand as was his second-in-charge, new vice president Mario Hernandez.

Handley chose to assign Cooper to sit on his athletic committee and chair the personnel committee, taking advantage of her human resources’ experience.

In other action, board members

– Used a $46,893.92 Broadband Internet Access grant to buy $46,519.21 worth of WiFi hotspots for students due to the increased need for online learning by students.

– Approved a renewal of the contract with Easter Seals for interpreting services.

– Agree to spend $34,112 to audit the district’s financial statements for the year ending June 30, 2020.

– Accepted the resignation of Cassandra Felekey as a two-hour crossing guard at Westgate.

– Hired Jessica Carroll as a four-hour custodian at LaCroft Elementary School; Anita Adkins as a two-hour crossing guard for the district; substitute custodians Kyle Gatrell and Dray Bailey; substitute food service staff Adkins and Gatrell; substitute secretary Sydney Voorhees; volunteer swimming coach William Smith; and season and casual employees Lisa Mick, Rebecca Rudy, Ken Rudy, Gatrell and Chris Hornbeck.

The meeting lasted a half hour and had no executive sessions.

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