SIDNEY – On Monday, before the board of education, and alluding to a conspiracy theory regarding the high school girl’s volleyball team, two parents claimed administrators of Fairlawn Local Schools are not treating a group who did not quit last year’s team, fairly. School leaders said the proposed new head coach has called meetings and welcomed the group back onto the team, if they wish.
Tony and Krista Bensman questioned the board on why the girls who didn’t quit the team last season, due to differences with then-coach Johanna Peters, were not being interviewed for their input regarding new leadership.
Krista Bensman said the girls quit because they didn’t like the way they were being treated. Tony Bensman, a former school board member, claimed current meetings were being held that was not including that group of girls who stayed on the team.
As a board member, Bensman had voted in favor of unanimously non-renewing the contract of coach Kelly Tobie, and to hire Peters as head coach, both on Feb. 13, 2017.
Superintendent Jeff Hobbs and Middle/High School Principal John Stekli said they were going to recommend teacher Jodi Hickman to the board as the next coach. They knew Hickman had announced two meetings regarding girls signing up for the team and to schedule off-season training.
They contend Hickman had indicated to the group of girls who quit last year were welcome back if they were willing to do the work necessary to earn a spot on the team.
Hobbs said Tuesday afternoon to clarify that Hickman made the offer to the girls who quit they were welcome back, but no meetings or promises were made.
Following an executive session to discuss employment contracts, the board of education unanimously approved Hickman as the varsity head coach. As in all coaching contracts, the agreement is a one-year, limited services pact.
A graduate of Fairlawn with a 25-year teaching career, Hickman currently serves as the 7-8th grade reading and language arts teacher.
Hobbs reported plans are taking shape for the career planning classroom through the Workforce Partnership of Shelby County. Named “The Hangar” the school’s renovated media center is expected to be fully operational for the 2018-19 school year.
It will be the third such educational lab created in Shelby County.
Hobbs said administrators are still meeting with area businesses and organizations seeking partnerships in the project. Currently, the agreement unites the Workforce Partnership, the Shelby County 4-H Education Extension program and the Upper Valley Career Center in the project.
The Partnership group works to provide training and employment opportunities for high school students to better fit the skills and need of the local labor force. The non-profit organization creates working relationships with private and public organizations.
Mental health first aid training completed
In principal reports, Elementary Principal Karen McRill reported all staff members recently completed the mental health first aid training course. She also noted the third-grade state reading tests will begin soon. Stekli commended the FFA and FCCLA groups for the weeklong celebration they presented.
The board unanimously approved a three-year contract renewal for Stekli. The new contract begins Aug. 1 and he will be paid $89,610.
In other business, the board:
• Approved a request that allows the senior class not to attend school the final three days of the school-year, as in past tradition. The dates will be May 22-24.
• Accepted a donation of $1,000 from Minster State Bank for the bank’s scholarship.
• Awarded three-year contracts to teachers Sonya Phillips, Stephanie Everett, David Heintz and Amber Poeppelman. Awarded two-year contracts to teachers Jill Smith, Elisabeth Baker, Darren Kaiser, Rebecca Gerardi and Samantha Maas.
• Approved two-year contracts for guidance counselors Tonya Slonaker and Christopher Lauterbach.
• Okayed continuing contracts for aides Meghan Lavey, Sarah Braun and Gary Clark. Offered two-year contracts to aides Timothy Brown and Rycki Schmiesing.
• Approved two-year contracts for part-time custodians Debra Cummins-Parker and Todd Acker.
• Awarded a two-year contract to fulltime bus drive Gretchen Hageman.
• Approved a two-year contract for Kathleen Jendrusik as part-time music accompanist on an as needed basis.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.
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