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After a moment of silence marking the tragic shooting at Chardon High School on Monday, Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education members heard from a community member and a teacher about local concerns on unrelated matters.
“It’s so refreshing to walk in here tonight,” said Francine Slife, a community member who has several family members who teach in the district.
“The air is so much thinner,” she said, thanking board members for their recent ratification of a contract with teachers.
Discussing an e-mail she sent to each board member after the ratification and their responses, Slife said she sincerely hoped everyone could move forward.
“I’m still really interested in communications
between the superintendent, school board members and teachers,” Slife said.
While she knew a decision couldn’t be put in place Tuesday at the regular monthly meeting of the board, Slife said she hoped some efforts could be made before contract negotiations begin again. She also was hopeful some ideas could begin flowing between the groups now.
In reviewing the bylaws, she stressed they address open communication through the district superintendent and she acknowledged that she understands there is a process to go through.
“In two years you’ll be negotiating again,” Slife said. “It was so dangerous this time. I’d hate to see that again. I can’t believe there’d be a person who would disagree with me.”
She ended her public comment session asking if all administrators would be receiving the same zero percent increase in salaries and step freezes as the teachers during the next two years.
“Yes,” Superintendent Keith Horner said. “It’s already decided and already done.”
Addressing other financial concerns in the district, Wapakoneta High School teacher Carrie Becker, who serves on the district’s Insurance Committee, said they wanted the public to know they are working hard at becoming educated on the subject.
“There have been a lot of changes with the new carrier,” Becker said. “Prescription prices have changed, things are not covered the same.
“It’s these little things that have caused some friction,” she said. “With the money issues we have going on we are working very hard to educate our whole body about how to save money.”
Becker said they are utilizing websites for information and ideas, looking up physicians, hospitals and prescription drugs, and working with local pharmacies to bring business back to the community.
“We are looking into the best places cost-wise and working as a district to become healthier, which is the main way to get premiums down,” Becker said.
Recently more than 75 percent of the district staff participated in biometric screenings, which measured body mass index rates, cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure.
Efforts are being made to implement a wellness coordinator and teachers are taking a Zumba class through the Wapakoneta Family YMCA.
Information is disseminated to other employees as it becomes available, Becker said.
“We’re going to continue to work on things,” Becker said, noting that they also would be keeping the school board up-to-date by providing them minutes of their committee meetings. “We are working hard on our insurance and doing a good job communicating with each other.”
Horner said it would be really important to get a buy-in from all the teachers on the preventative care, to help lower insurance rates, which have increased by 50 percent in three years.
“It’s a huge animal to get control of,” Horner said. “We appreciate their work on the committee.”