Belpre BOE clears spring break

BELPRE – Students and teachers within the Belpre City Schools District Board of Education will celebrate Easter with a full spring break after the board approved forgiving the last two snow days during its regular meeting Monday.

“Let’s give the kids their spring break,” said board member Fred Meredith, who made the first motion to change the school calendar.

The board had previously approved to have classes April 14 and 15 – the first two days of the originally scheduled spring break – to make up the last two calamity days used.

Although board members Bob Wallace and Leonard Wiggins voted against the measure, the others – Pat Taylor and Mike Wile – agreed with Meredith to pass the measure.

The change has been approved by both the Ohio House and state Senate as a way to help districts throughout the state cope with the loss of classroom time through the severe weather from this winter, said Belpre Superintendent Tony Dunn.

Both branches of the state’s government could not agree on legislation, which allowed this compromise to add four calamity days to the current five days that do not need to be made up.

“The days in April were part of our original contingency plan,” Dunn said. “Given the new legislation, if the board chooses, it can re-instate those days as spring break and not have to make them up.”

Since December, the district has canceled 12 school days because of weather. Per previous state laws, the district has five it does not have to make up and three it has made up though online assignments as well as two days – Feb. 14 and 17 – that had been scheduled as teacher in-service days and became regular class days.

“We had a strong turnout and a lot of positive feedback on my end with the first three online assignment days,” said Belpre Elementary School principal Joy Edgell.

Wiggins said he voted against the district’s participation in the state’s new option for a reason.

“I believe kids should be in a classroom with a teacher in front of them,” he said.

In other business:

* The district has received the final report regarding the energy savings project with Energy Optimizers.

“The weather did not co-operate outside as we were working to finish the outdoor lights,” said Dunn. “The entire project has been completed with all new lights in the buildings and the heating and cooling systems up and running efficiently.”

The work included installing drop ceilings in the high school to help conserve energy, upgrading lighting, energy controls and mechanical upgrades. The work also included 14 individual energy-efficient heating units for the high school.

During a special meeting last July, the board approved the use of Ohio House Bill 264, also known as the Ohio School Facilities Energy Conservation Program, which allows the district to authorize the bonds to upgrade the high school’s heating system.

The loan will be paid back over 15 years at a little less than $50,000 annually.

* Early in the meeting, the board held a moment of silence for longtime district bus driver Wanda Locke who passed away Monday.

“Wanda was with the district for 40 years,” said Dunn.

The board approved a suggestion by driver and mechanic Steve Snider, which will see one of the district’s buses participate in the funeral procession.

“As she is laid to rest, we would like one of our buses to send Wanda out in style and honor her,” said Dunn.