Parents share Whittier School experiences

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — Testimonials from three parents whose children attend Whittier Elementary School were heard during Monday night’s Sidney City Schools Board of Education meeting.

Principal Keith Helmlinger said he had asked several parents to speak to the board about why they chose Sidney City Schools as the district they wanted their children to attend. Rusti Cottrel, Kristin Allen and Kristin Jones all addressed the board.

Cottrel said she has emailed Superintendent John Scheu on numerous occasions and “he has always responded.”

“I went to Sidney City Schools myself,” she said. “I think my son has a bright future at Sidney City Schools. I love Whittier and what they do there.”

She said she’s thankful Deputy Doug Schlagetter is the deputy assigned to the school.

“You have the best principal at Whittier that I’ve ever seen,” said Cottrel. “If there’s a concern, he’s right there for you to talk to.”

She added the teachers at the school are also wonderful.

“I don’t want my son anyplace else but at Sidney City Schools,” she said.

Both Johns and Allen open enroll their children into the Sidney school district. Jones has two daughters, while Allen has three sons.

“I like the diversity at Whittier and that you’re preparing the kids for the future,” said Jones.

She said a special needs child is in the kindergarten class. Both of her daughters like helping him throughout the school day.

She credits her daughter’s first-grade teacher and the New Choices program with giving her daughter self-confidence in school.

“Whittier is home to us,” she said. “I went to school there. My husband went there as did my parents. My dad taught there for 40 years.”

Allen said her children are in the first, third and fourth grade.

“We started the older two boys at Anna but we knew it wasn’t where we were meant to be,” said Allen. “We wanted them to be in a school that felt like home.

“I love seeing first-hand what the teachers do,” said Allen. “Deputy S. (Schlagetter) and Mr. H. (Helmlinger) care for, protect and empower the kids.”

Allen said her oldest child is a Type A personality. Last year he stressed about the third-grade guarantee test, he became physically ill.

“Kristen Nelson, his teacher, jumped right in and gave him daily pep talks,” said Allen. “She saved him. Because of what she did, he did great on the test.”

Allen said her husband went to Sidney City Schools.

“We are thrilled that our kids are in this district.”

Helmlinger told the board he appreciates the support he receives from his staff and parents. Six weeks ago he had a medical issue and was off work for a while. The staff and parents rallied around him to help him through a tough time.

“This is a great district,” said Helmlinger. “I’m proud to have parents who want to be part of this.”

Scheu said listening to the parents was “uplifting.”

Board member Linda Meininger said she was in the first class after Whittier was built.

“It’s a great school,” she said. “I had so much fun there.”

In other business, the board:

• Established Fund 020 – Special Enterprise for the purpose of operating the district’s Latchkey Program.

• Approved a resolution declaring transportation to be impractical for three students to Troy Christian School for the 2017-18 school year. Each family will receive $600 for transportation costs.

• Accepted the retirement of Linda Wiford, bus driver, effective June 1. She has been with the district for 33 years. “Everybody knows her,” said Scheu. “He’s a very reliable bus driver.”

• Accepted the resignation of custodian William Henry effective March 23.

• Awarded supplemental contracts for the summer school instruction. High school teachers Hilary Davis, Josh Montgomery, Christian Taylor and Ebenezer Blay received teacher contracts at $26 per hour. Terry Ward and Wes Branscum received aide contracts at $12.50 per hour.

• Approved employment of Nick Watkins as an intervention specialist at Northwood School for the 2018-19 school year. He received a one-year contract at $38,694 for the year. His employment starts Aug. 13, 2018.

• Went into executive session to discuss evaluations. No action was taken.

The board’s next meeting will be April 16 at 6 p.m. at the Board of Education office.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.