COVINGTON — The Covington Board of Education held its yearly organizational meeting Wednesday, directly followed by its first regular meeting of 2020.
Dr. Dean Pond and Lee Harmon were voted board president and vice president, respectively, and all other board and committee members remained the same as the year prior.
The board approved bookkeeping resolutions, including authorizations for the treasurer to serve in the interest of the district, establishment of a service fund for the purpose of paying expensive of board members incurred in the performance of their duty, authorization of an Ohio School Boards Association membership, and appointment for the superintendent’s secretary MaryAnn Francis to attend public records training as required by law.
The board also set the date and time for regular meetings during the year 2020 as the third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the elementary school media center.
During the open forum segment of the regular session, elementary principal Josh Long recognized fifth-grader Cassidy Iddings and third-graders Jean Joslyn and Bella Kerber as part of the “student spotlight.”
The three students participated in the Family Services “Families Matter” essay and poster contest, and were subsequently chosen as winners. A total of 21 students throughout the Miami Valley were deemed winners and all were honored at an award ceremony held at the Mandalay Banquet Center in Moraine in November 2019.
“We are super proud of them for representing us,” Long said. “They’re great kids.”
The theme of the essay contest was “Kindness Matters: How My Family Shows Kindness.”
“As Mr. Long said, we’re all very proud of you, but I can tell you that you’re parents are beaming,” said Superintendent Gene Gooding.
Jean is the daughter of Roslyn and Thomas Pitman, Bella is the daughter of Bridgit and Steve Kerber, and Cassidy is the daughter of Carolyn and Tony Iddings.
Long also recognized teacher Susan Brunswick during the staff spotlight.
Brunswick teaches fourth and fifth grade social studies.
“She’s just a compassionate and kind person and teacher,” Long said. “Mrs. Brunswick truly cares for kids.”
Long highlighted Brunswick’s work as creator and head of a monthly club called Fearlessly Girls Club, a program which focuses on providing girls with a space to interact socially while learning about various topics including communication, friendship, social media, and the like.
“If you’re every having a bad day, go down to her classroom,” Gooding said. “I’ve never seen a more welcoming early-morning classroom where you come down the hall and she’s already beaming and kids are skipping in there … You are a remarkable teacher.”
The board passed a resolution opposing the State of Ohio EdChoice Scholarship Voucher Program.
The Educational Choice Scholarship Program (EdChoice) provides students from under-performing public schools the opportunity to attend participating private schools by issuing scholarships, or vouchers, to pay school tuition. A change recent in what qualifies a school as “under-performing,” based on state report card grades, has nearly doubled the number of EdChoice schools in Ohio.
While this change in law will open up more opportunities for students who would have otherwise been unable to attend private schools, it leaves public education lacking. In Ohio, for most voucher programs, including EdChoice, the money is deducted from state aid that would have gone to a public school.
“Our legislators are off the mark here,” Gooding said. “This will send public, taxpayer-raised money to allow students to attend private institutions.”
Previously, Gooding noted, vouchers were designed so students attending failing schools would have the opportunity to go to a school that was not failing. This list of schools now includes many which have received As, Bs, or Cs on state report cards.
“I just don’t think it’s constitutional,” Gooding said. “We shouldn’t be sending our taxpayer money outside of this district and this community. Money raised in Covington should stay in Covington. I’m extremely proud of this school, and of public education in general.”
Several public school districts throughout the state of Ohio have passed similar resolutions opposing the EdChoice expansion, Gooding said. As of now, the changes are set to be in effect during this year’s EdChoice student application process, which begins Feb. 1, 2020.
In other business:
• Gooding announced the new stairs to the bleachers have been completed; bus radios have been installed and are running; the baseball diamond backstop will be completed within the next few days; and a new entrance sign for the high school is set to be completed by the end of the month.
• The board accepted the following donations: $45,000 from Roy J. Weikert, for unrestricted use, and $1,000 from Robert Brumbaugh, for the Covington Scholarship Fund.
• Zachary Sherman was approved as a classified volunteer coach for the wrestling program during the 2019-2020 school year.
• The board accepted the following donations and establishment of scholarship funds: $274,320.99 from Marianna Warner, and $75,505.63 from Harriet Miller.
The board entered into executive session to discuss personnel with no action taken.
The next board meeting will be Feb. 19 at 6 p.m.