NEW PARIS — National Trail Local School District Board of Education members elected board officers and discussed disciplinary issues and safety concerns during their first monthly meeting of 2021 on Monday, Jan. 11.
Greg McWhinney and Mindy Ward were elected President and Vice President of the National Trail School Board, respectively, near the top of last Monday’s meeting.
Superintendent Bob Fischer thanked the board for its service to the district in recognition of Board Member Appreciation Month.
“I’ve worked with other boards outside of this district, and I would say this is the best board I’ve had to work with,” Fischer said.
Fischer also acknowledged the unique challenges of governing a school district in the wake of COVID-19.
“I know this year has been unlike any other year, and my hope is that by the time we get to next year we are done with this,” Fischer said.
Fischer said that incidents requiring disciplinary action had been surprisingly few during the first half of the 2020-21 school year.
“We thought our biggest issue was going to be dealing with the masks, but discipline is down,” Fischer said.
High School principal Mike Eyler credited the district’s faculty for building relationships with students.
“They feel like the staff listens to them and gets to know them, and I think that’s the first line of defense,” Eyler said. “I also think the students are glad to be in the building instead of being stuck on the computer at home. I think they have a new appreciation for school.”
Elementary principal Ed Eels agreed.
“The students are glad to be here, and they’re willing to do what it takes to be here,” Eels said.
Fischer also addressed the issue of truancy among online students.
“There’s probably a reason those kids are struggling, whether it’s a lack of support or a lack of knowledge at home,” Fischer said.
Fischer stressed that parents do not necessarily possess the appropriate skills or training to guide their children’s education.
“Parents aren’t teachers,” Fischer said. “They didn’t go to school to be educators, and I think that’s where some of the drop-off happens.”
Traffic safety concerns
Fischer informed board members that he had spoken with representatives from the Ohio Dept. of Transportation (ODOT) about placing signs and possibly reducing the speed limit near the intersections of U.S. 40, Eaton Gettysburg and Oxford Gettysburg Road.
The ODOT representatives claimed, according to Fischer, that school zone signs typically cannot be placed along a road unless the main entrance to a school building faces that road.
ODOT also claimed that more accidents would have to occur at those intersections before further measures could be taken.
“They said there’s not been enough injuries or deaths,” Fischer said. “And I told them I didn’t think I’d have a lot of success going to a parent and saying, ‘Sorry, there’s nothing we can do until someone dies.’”
Fischer didn’t mince words when explaining the potential benefits of reducing speed limits near the school.
“Getting hit at 15 miles per hour is a lot less devastating than getting hit at 55 miles per hour,” Fischer said.
The next meeting of the National Trail School District Board of Education will take place Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Middle School cafeteria.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish