Marion board suggests changes to address safety issues in gym

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DONNA HAJEK
A discussion about the supervision of students, seating placement and other safety concerns in regard to activities in the Marion gymnasium highlighted the Nov. 10 meeting of USD 408 Board of Education.

The district leadership team-composed of Gerry Henderson, superintendent, Martin Tice, board clerk, Ken Arnhold, high school principal, Tod Gordon, middle school principal and Stan Ploutz, elementary school principal-suggested several change.

Henderson said the team was asking for support from the board members to implement the proposed changes in regard to basketball games at the MHS gym.

The primary suggestion was to place the band in the northwest seating section. By relocating the band, it was felt the student body could move to this location as well.

Some board members said students preferred not to change their seating area, but it was pointed out the student body would be closer to the cheerleaders.

Board members agreed, however, the move would alleviate the problem that spectators sitting behind the student section cannot see the game when the student body is standing.

The board also discussed allowing spectators to enter at the northwest door. Gordon said this door frequently found propped open, so a ticket taker should be stationed at this location to monitor the entrance.

Board members agreed smoking should be discouraged on school property, which relieve the congestion outside the doors.

The board agreed to hire an off-duty police officer to patrol during public events in order to monitor the youth play and group congestion that occurs.

Member Keith Collett recommended an additional barrier be placed on the balcony railing to prevent a potential accident.

Board members agreed there is a considerable safety issue regarding the control of floor traffic, but could not decide on any reasonable solutions.

Board members also supported the leadership team’s decision to control loitering or playing in the corridor at the Marion Middle School gymnasium.

Ken Arnhold presented a proposal for activity T-shirts. The shirts, purchased for $10, would be the admission “ticket;” $6 would go to the school’s activity fund. Student admission is presently $2. Arnhold reported this cost was going to be raised next year to $3 for students, $4 for adults.

Carolyn Moore, Student Council sponsor, said StuCo would facilitate the shirt sale. The action passed 7-0.

Mike Fruechting, technology coordinator, presented information about new computer servers. Under his proposal, two servers costing $4,755 each would actually save the district money over five years.

Fruechting reminded the board, as was explained last month, the current servers could be integrated as work stations. In the event the system would incur another hard-drive crash, these servers would handle the situation without down time.

Fruechting said his quotes were from Dell Corporation, a company anxious to get school business.

Kathy Meierhoff asked if he had quotes from other vendors. Fruechting said he didn’t, but would pursue some if the board approved the purchase proposition.

By a 7-0 vote, the board authorized the expediter if it falls within the parameters proposed.

In other business, the board:

— approved a change in yearbook sponsorship. Jim Versch will now have the entire responsibility instead of sharing it with Carolyn Moore, whose duties have increased in other areas.

— agreed to add a dental plan to the district’s Section 125 Plan provided by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Tice said more than 50 percent of employees signed up for the dental plan when it was presented.

— heard a report from Tice about problems with the roofing on the original portion of the Marion Elementary School. Tice was instructed to get suggestions and bids from an architect.

— heard from Casey Case, of Case & Son Insurance, about a 3 percent increase in insurance for next year. Though the official proposal will be offered to the board in December, Case felt the quote of $48,387 could be “fairly binding.” He also reminded the board that this policy would not include coverage on students.

— heard from Ploutz, Marion Elementary principals reported that a recent crisis-plan evacuation drill interrupted a funeral dinner at Eastmoor United Methodist Church. Ploutz said there would be better communication for future drills.

— heard a request from board member Chris Sprowls, a member of the district’s school-improvement team, concerning the need to educate students on personal finance and other basic math skills at the high school level.

Board members agreed on the need to teach these skills, but felt it should be introduced at an elementary level because high school class prerequisites were already extensive. Collett said he didn’t feel there was enough material to fill an entire semester class for a mandatory requirement.

— heard a request from Gene Bowers that the district consider conserving energy by keeping the thermostats turned down a couple of degrees.

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