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Bluffton School Board 2023 reorganizational meeting summary

HIgh Five Fridays featured on Toledo news; Pat and Rick Shaner return as substitute teachers; Bakery Bingo is back

The first Bluffton Board of Education meeting for 2023 was held on January 11 in the Elementary Media Center, where several guests gathered to address the board.

The first order of business, however, was to reorganize the board for the upcoming year:

Brad Dailey was elected as board president and Wes Klinger was elected as vice president. 

Standing authorizations were made for the treasurer and superintendent.

A regular meeting schedule was established on the third Monday of each month, with a few exceptions:

Monday, February 20, 2023, 7:30 P.M.
Monday, March 20, 2023, 7:30 P.M.
Tuesday, April 18, 2023, 7:30 P.M.
Monday, May 15, 2023, 7:30 P.M.
Tuesday, June 27, 2023. 7:30 P.M.
Monday, July 17, 2023, 7:30 P.M.
Monday. August 21, 2023, 7:30 P.M.
Monday, September 18, 2023, 7:30 P.M.
Monday, October 23, 2023, 5:30 P.M.
Monday, November 20, 2023, 7:30 P.M.
Monday, December 18, 2023 5:30 P.M.

Board representatives were established: Roni Kaufmann  was named as the official delegate to the 2023 Ohio School Board Conference, with Wes KLINGER as the alternate. Larry Hoffman was named as the legislative liaison to the Ohio School Board Association. Brad Daily was named as the student achievement liaison. Julie Steiner was named as the Board’s designee at the House Bill 9 Public Records Training Seminar.

When the regular meeting began, Dailey invited guests to address the board.

» CONTINUES with additional photos

The first to speak was Bluffton University football coach Matt Nardo, who attended with two of his players to provide information about High Five Fridays, events that university athletes have celebrated with Bluffton Elementary School students since Spring 2022. Nardo noted that the idea originated elsewhere but has been very popular with the athletes as well as with the young students and their families.

Also present were student Elinor Parrish with her parents Casandra and Darrin. Her father spoke about how High Five Fridays have made Elinor, a special needs student, feel safe and welcome. The family created a Tic Toc video that had 600,000 likes before it was featured on WTOL 11 News.

Superintendent Keith Horner made an update on both the high school and adult learning opportunities at the Apollo Career Center, 3325 Shawnee Rd, Lima. He reported:

- Bluffton Superintendent Greg Denecker, who serves on Apollo’s business advisory council, had visited the school that day with other superintendents and treasurers. 

- The high school has opened an HVAC program and ended a floral design program. A second culinary instructor has been added.

- Apollo anticipates a new equipment services program next year and the construction of additional fire, police, and truck facilities.

- MakerFest will return in October 2023 as a 2-day program for freshmen and sophomores with hands-on activities.

- Horner distributed the attached summary.

Board member Jeremy Scoles noted that he had made his first visit to Apollo and had a new excitement about the opportunities for Bluffton students. Currently 26 Bluffton students attend Apollo, where they have a half day of academics and a half day of career-oriented labs.

The board approved the renewal of four cooperative purchasing agreements:  Ohio Department of Administrative Cooperative Purchase Program,  TIPS-USA Interlocal Purchasing System, Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing Program at no cost to Bluffton Exempted Village School District and the Southwestern Ohio Educational Purchasing Council, (EPC).


Elementary - Principal Ben Thiel

Kindergarten registration is starting sooner than usual with 35 students signed up already; the early start is because of Final Forms online process.

On January 21 PTO Bakery Bingo returns with Thiel as bingo caller. Bingo information will be projected on a new large screen on the stage.

i-Ready winter diagnostics for reading and math have kicked off.

Literacy training for kindergarten and 1st grade teachers has been scheduled  with the Allen County ESC; this is now a weekly element in the teachers’ day.

Middle School - Principal Josh Kaufmann

6th grade cookie bakers who made sales and paid off all school lunch balances for their classmates made the news, sparking similar efforts in other communities.

Before the holiday break, 600 items were collected for the food pantry.

8th graders went to  Apollo Career Center, generating excitement for an upcoming careers unit.

High School - Principal Mike Minnig

Final exams were scheduled for the next two days (would be delayed by January 12 fog).

Senior citizens breakfast was hosted on January 11 with strings program

Auditions for “Newsies” musical to be held

Red Cross blood drive next week 

Technology - Mardy Herr

Interactive monitors have been installed for 2nd grade classrooms and a final first grade classroom. These are an improvement over projection systems that are more difficult to view and maintain.

All 3rd grade Chromebooks have been updated

A few 6th graders have been assisting Herr once a week during study hall

Superintendent - Greg Denecker:

Cafetorium stage curtains have been cleaned and coated with fire retardant

After an hour-long closed door executive session to discuss employment, the board resumed the public portion of the meeting.

The board approved substitute teachers at $95.00 per day taught:

Grace Bell, Janella Claudill, Chelsey Cloud, Kristy Collins, Melanie Koenig, Sheima Krezi, Kalie Miller, Patricia Shaner, Ricky Shaner, Heidi Steiner (also 2-year kindergarten teacher in the morning)

The superintendent noted that the Shaners are returning to the Bluffton Schools from Alaska. Rick Shaner taught in Bluffton for 30 years and retired in 2003. He was an elementary teacher for 13 years, and was the HS Guidance Counselor for another 17 years. Pat Shaner taught in the elementary school for 15 years and retired in 2001.  

The board approved a Bluffton-Richland Public Library Board Appointment for Carrie Phillips, who begins a new 7-year term,  January 2023 through December 2029.

The board approved a new Administrative Contract for Greg Denecker, Superintendent. This is a five year contract from August 1, 2024 through July 31, 2029.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:21 p.m.

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