Centerburg Josh Jackson

Centerburg school board member Josh Jackson gets sworn in by the treasurer during the first 2022 board meeting, Jan. 10. 

CENTERBURG – With the start of a new year comes the reorganization of school district board affairs. 

Centerburg’s school board swore in a newly elected board member, Josh Jackson, during its first meeting of 2022 on Monday night. 

Traditionally, the former board vice president assumes the role of president the next term, which was the case Monday. The board accepted former vice president Lynn McCann as board president for the new term, and Tracey Myers as vice president for the term. Myers was not present Monday.  

Lynn McCann assumes role of board president

The board accepted former vice president Lynn McCann (left) as board president for the new term. 

The district continues to adapt to COVID-19 and staffing challenges, specifically when it comes to bus drivers. Tuesday the district will be back to full staffing for bus drivers, which has been inconsistent in recent weeks with some drivers having to take on multiple routes, superintendent Mike Hebenthal said.

“Tomorrow we’ll be back to full staff on busing, that’s the first time since well before Christmas,” Hebenthal said. 

While staff is back for the time being, if more than two drivers are out at once, the district will not be able to run all its routes. 

Hebenthal also spoke about the district’s latest profile report, issued by the Ohio Department of Education. Centerburg is receiving more money from the state than it is paying to the state, which Hebenthal highlighted as a benefit.

According to the report, Centerburg is also taxing below what the state thinks it should be, another aspect Hebenthal shared as a positive sign. 

Hebenthal specifically pointed out median and average income for the area, as it relates to future financial needs of the district. According to the ODE data, the median income is about $43,000 and the average income is about $65,000 in the Centerburg Local Schools district. 

The larger average compared with the median reveals that a few high-income residents pull up the average well above typical incomes in the area.

“We have a minority of our community making pretty good money, and the majority of our community is not,” Hebenthal said. “What does that mean when we try to raise funds, when we try to pass a levy, and we think that the majority of your people paying taxes are on the lower end of the earning scale?

"It really makes you start to think.”

Several groups presented during Monday’s meeting, including director of teaching and learning Barb Gentille Green and first grade teacher Emily Hite about the state and district's efforts to raise literacy achievement.

FFA students, vice president Tim Wheeler and treasurer Kelly Perry, presented on behalf of Centerburg FFA about recent fundraising efforts, competition feats and their attendance at a national convention in Indianapolis.

For one recent event, Brown Bag for the Hungry, FFA donated $400 and 1,600 items. FFA also raised more than $15,000 from its recent fruit sales. In terms of competition, Centerbug’s team placed 12th in the state for food science, and the district’s junior team was 17th at state for parliamentary procedure.

Other student achievements were also recognized. The board gave out certificates to several students for qualifying and participating in the Ohio Music Education Association District 10 honors band, including Claire Hill, Judith Dettmar, Madigan Kennedy, Jasper Faught and Marco Pedraza. 

Regarding finances, the board accepted several donations: $35 from John and Cathy Goeppinger to the athletic fund in memory of Linda Gates (Gates died in October 2021 after working as a bus driver in Centerburg for 45 years), $125 from Knox County Pork Council to the general fund 001 for family consumer science, and $200 from Heather Larimore to the athletic fund.

Several memberships were also approved: Ohio Education Policy Institute and Knox County Area Development Foundation for 2022 as well as the ​​Ohio High School Athletic Association for the 2022-23 school year.

As winter sports get underway, indoor track will operate as a club sport for the winter/spring season but will not be provided transportation or a paid coaching position.

A few staffing changes were approved.

Jennifer Love and Tiffany Hall were appointed as public records training representatives for the 2022 fiscal year.

The board approved Nicole Berger retroactively as a sub aide, effective Dec. 3, Kim Schwartz for additional 20-hour per week for transportation of a student as required by federal law, and Dave McDowell as transportation and maintenance assistant who will be paid using American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III funds. 

Beyond personnel reorganization Monday, the board cast votes on reorganizing employee responsibilities — all of which were the same items approved during the first meeting of 2021.

An example of such items includes the board establishing a service fund of $3,500 to pay board members’ or their respective representatives’ expenses when on business to promote the welfare of the Centerburg Local School District. 

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Emma Davis is a 2021 graduate of the University of Richmond, from which she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and leadership studies. Emma reports for Knox Pages and Ashland Source through Report for America.

Emma Davis is a 2021 graduate of the University of Richmond, from which she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and leadership studies. Emma reports for Knox Pages and Ashland Source through Report for America.