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Southern adds week to remote learning

Scott Hart

SALINEVILLE — Students at Southern Local are going to have to wait just a little bit longer to return for in-person classes.

The school district, which was the first to go back to remote classes in November, had been planning a return for Tuesday, Jan. 19. However, Superintendent Tom Cunningham said the board felt the case numbers were still too high and they chose to hold off for one more week.

Classes are now set to resume on Monday, Jan. 25.

Cunningham said with Monday, Jan. 18 a holiday and Friday, Jan. 22 already planned as a Zoom day, the students were only really going to be there three days next week anyway. Southern Local’s board voted on Nov. 19 to go back to online classes after starting the 2020-21 school year in person.

During Friday’s board meeting Cunningham said a few students had been back in the building this week decorating to lift school spirit when the students returned. Hallways were adorned with blue and gold chains and other decorations hanging from ceiling. Cunningham remarked staff in the office told him it was good to hear the students back in the building, laughing again.

Board President Kip Dowling, who attended the board meeting remotely, asked school nurse Heidi McIntosh for an update on the number of cases currently in the district. She said there are currently 12 students either positive or quarantining after coming into contact with someone positive. There currently are five staff members in the same situation. McIntosh said the zip code numbers show there are 15 positive community cases currently in the school district.

The decision comes when more students are prepared to return. Junior and Senior High Assistant Principal Adam Loudin reported 80 percent of the students are planning to return, up from the 70 percent when school began in the fall. At the elementary, Principal Rich Wright also reported 79 percent have indicated they plan to return, leaving 86 students throughout the elementary school remote.

Wright indicated he just wanted to see the students return and school to hopefully have some normalcy again.

In other matters:

— The board accepted the resignation of board member Patty Exline, who resigned after being charged with petty theft stemming from an incident at the Calcutta Walmart where items were not scanned. She later pleaded no contest to a lesser disorderly conduct charge in East Liverpool Municipal Court. Exline was elected in November of 2019 and began serving on the board in January of 2020.

The board voted to appoint Scott Hart to the board after interviewing candidates on Thursday. Cunningham noted the district was fortunate to have several qualified candidates to choose from for the board position.

— Treasurer Greg Sabbato reported the bond issue will be paid off on Jan. 29 with the district paying $895,000. The school will then begin collecting on the new levy and should be looking at planning for upcoming projects including replacing a roof, boilers and pavement around the schools over the next three or four years.

— The board approved the gas lease agreement with DPS Land Services for 4.54 acres around the softball field.

— The board approved one-year contracts for Chastity Sloan and Kelley Korbel, both cafeteria workers, and continuing contracts for Danielle Crawford, bus driver, and Heather Price, cafeteria worker. Additionally, the board approved a list of substitutes for the remainder of the school year.

— Kyler Woodward was approved as a volunteer for the girls’ basketball team and Brent Boyle was approved as the softball coach for this spring.

— The board accepted a No Kid Hungry grant amounting to $14,700, which is being used to replace aging freezers and cooler equipment in the cafeteria.

— The next meeting of the board is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 9. During the reorganizational meeting Friday, the board chose the second Tuesday of the month for its meetings this year.

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