ESC board discusses wellness funds

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — The State of Ohio’s operating budget for fiscal years 2020-2021 includes significant funds to help increase student wellness in Ohio schools. The new Ohio budget allocates $675 million to establish a Student Wellness and Success Fund.

Preble County schools are thinking of ways to use those dollars to address mental health issues.

During the Preble County Educational Service Center (ESC) board of education meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 28, Superintendent Mike Gray mentioned the funds and an upcoming superintendents’ meeting where he will discuss the funds with the area superintendents.

“Schools are getting a lot of mental health money. [The districts] are trying to use us to take that money and see what we can do with it. We will be working with the mental health people in Preble and Darke County,” he said.

“We don’t know what we can spend money on yet,” Treasurer Kerry Borger added.

Shawn Hoff, Assistant to the Superintendent, mentioned the tuition reimbursement program the ESC is researching.

Board President Rhonda Schaar had previously asked Hoff to look into a tuition reimbursement program as an incentive to the staff. From there, he reached out to various districts and drafted a plan for the ESC. He presented that draft to the board during the meeting.

“Have you asked any of the teachers if this is something that would be desirable to them?” Schaar asked.

Hoff responded, he has been told in the past that tuition reimbursement would help the staff.

“Specifically the work we do in our classrooms, we don’t do this for the money, we do it for the passion. All of education is that way. It is a tough decision to leave sometimes, when the money is there tempting. With this extra incentive, it would definitely help,” Hoff said. “Just the fact that we value their service to us and we want to reward them, because their salaries aren’t what they would be like at other districts.”

Hoff added, they have more research and “work” to do on the subject. Their next step is to work with legal counsel on assigning the policy to the policy manual.

Board member Peggy Crabtree reported on the Miami Valley Career Technology Center (MVCTC) renovations.

“They have already started school and all the utilities were up and running, which was a question, but they are all doing well. Things are progressing,” she said.

The Preble County ESC has a new website which is up and running. They have made several changes to the site, to make it more user friendly and to feature staff members in a live banner. The board discussed adding their emails to the website to make them more accessible to the public.

In other business:

•The board approved a contract for the Career Connection Director, on behalf of the schools of Preble County and the Miami Valley Career Technology Center. Eaton Community Schools agrees to participate in this program and agrees to pay the sun of $10,000 annually, for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. The total cost for the two years will be $20,000.

•The board approved the classroom programs student handbook 2019-2020, preschool parent handbook 2019-2020, employee handbook, and initial school bus routes for the 2019-2020 school year.

•The board approved a motion to appoint Citran Occupational Health LLC as the primary medical authority and Howtown Urgent Care as the secondary medical authority to conduct physical examinations and random drug testing of all school transportation drivers for the Preble County Educational Service Center for the 2019-2020 school year.

The Preble County ESC Board of Education will hold their next regular meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 5:30 p.m. in the ESC building.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH