Bilsky elected president, Leikin vice-president of the Orange school board

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PEPPER PIKE, Ohio – Scott Bilsky was elected chairman of the Orange Board of Education at the board’s first meeting of the year on Monday, January 10.

Jeffrey Leikin was elected vice-chairman of the board by his peers. The two offices have a duration of one year.

The election was unanimous, but board member Rebecca Boyle – who served as board chair last year – has expressed some concerns about the process.

“I’m happy that we are rotating the officers, but I’m just a little disappointed and feel like I was not included in this decision,” Boyle said. “Sir. Bilsky never called me to tell me he was running for president. I would have had a conversation with him and fully supported him.

Boyle said if she hadn’t talked about it with the other two current board members ahead of the meeting, she wouldn’t have known anything about plans to elect Bilsky as president.

“I know we want transparency – we want to work together as a board of directors – and I think not being told or asked for (Bilsky’s) support or letting me know why he wanted to run, I think that it was an important part in his steps to become an officer of this corps, ”she said.

After being sworn in as president by Treasurer Todd Puster, Bilsky told the board, “We’re all in the same boat and I look forward to working with all of you to make sure we’re doing the right thing to. our students and that it is a collaborative effort.

“I’m sorry, Becca, if you thought I should have spoken to you before,” he said to Boyle. “I’m still learning what we can do ahead of time with meetings and so on, and I’m sorry for any hurt feelings. “

After Leikin was elected vice president, Boyle said, “I think he and Mr. Bilsky will make a good team.”

Bilsky was appointed to the board of directors last May to fill Deborah Kamat’s unexpired tenure following her resignation. He was then elected to a four-year unopposed term in November.

Boyle and Leikin were also elected for a new four-year unopposed term in November. All three were sworn in at Puster on Monday.

Bilsky served on the Orange Village Council for 2.5 years before moving from Orange to Pepper Pike in August 2020.

He and his wife, Amy, have lived in the Orange City School District since 2004. They have two sons who attend Orange Schools.

Leikin, who graduated from Orange High School in 1977, is the longest serving member of the school board, with eight years of service.

Melanie Weltman, who was vice-chair of the board last year, resigned from the board on December 28. She was elected to Pepper Pike City Council in November.

Contingency plan for online learning

In another action, the board approved a memorandum of understanding for online education with the Orange Teachers Association.

Superintendent Lynn Campbell explained that this step was taken in case the district finds itself in a position where it cannot have in-person learning due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It would constitute a change in working conditions,” he said. “Last year, we promulgated a memorandum of understanding with the Orange Teachers Association throughout distance learning, from the end of the year 2019-2020 (school) to the year 2020-21 (school).

“So we continue in good faith to work with our union (teachers) to understand the change in working conditions, and a protocol is in place for this (potential) change.”

Campbell said the district intends to continue the in-person learning for as long as possible. He said that “while the (COVID-19) cases are definitely all around us,” the district continues to stand “very firmly” in this regard.

“While cases have increased dramatically in (Cuyahoga) County and statewide, the three zip codes we serve are not increasing at a comparatively alarming rate, which is a good sign,” he said. -he declares.

Campbell said he also sees this as a good sign that the district’s COVID-19 case positivity rate has declined since students returned from winter vacation.

According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, updated on Monday, the district has 24 active student cases and seven active staff cases. Only one student and no staff member are currently in quarantine, the dashboard says.

On December 14, the dashboard showed that the district had 42 active student cases and four active staff cases, with 10 students and no staff in quarantine.

“Maybe we’re turning a corner,” he said. “But I always tell our parents rest assured, our mitigation strategies are solid.

“The mask is as important as ever, as is hand sanitization and staying as far away from each other as possible. We do all of these things.

Campbell said if the district were to switch to distance learning at some point, “we would be running our typical schedule.” There would be no blended learning model – with students attending school for half a day and learning remotely the rest of the day – as was the case for part of the 2020-21 school year. , did he declare.

“We are now at the point where our teachers are ready if we were going to live in a remote situation and teach all our school day,” he said. “Staff would come in and teach from their classrooms, and the kids would go online from home.

“But again, we really hope we don’t get there. The intention is to stay in person, and everything is going well at the moment.

Update on the renovation of the school

Also on Monday, council had the first reading of a contract with Albert M. Higley Co. of Cleveland on plans to renovate the locker rooms and main entrance to Orange High School.

The contract provides for a guaranteed maximum price of approximately $ 3.87 million for the project.

The board is expected to approve it at its next meeting at 6 p.m. on January 24, or possibly at a special meeting before this one.

“It’s a big project and it’s very exciting,” said Campbell. “The oldest part of Orange High School that has not been touched since the 1970s (the locker room) will finally enter the modern era, as well as the main entrance.

“The locker rooms are very outdated and although they have been used for something over the years, they have become unusable in a sense. We are ready to produce a more modern facility for our children to better serve their goals – in physical education and athletics, physical training, weight lifting and conditioning.

Board member Beth Wilson-Fish said she was happy to see the project come to fruition after about four years of discussion.

The final piece was ThenDesign Architecture’s design approval of the front entrance by the Pepper Pike Architectural Review Board.

“I’m just excited about the front door, which I know has been a long conversation at Orange before me (as superintendent),” said Campbell.

“Building a double door entry system with buzzer for secure entry, channeling parents and visitors into the office instead of the main hallway is really good practice, and bringing it into a more modern era is Very important. “

Andy Hudak, regional vice president of Higley Co., said construction is expected to begin in late March. The goal is to complete the project by August so that the high school is ready for the 2022-2023 start, he said.

“Once we get the approval and lock things down, we have all of our costs locked down with contractors and suppliers, so we don’t see that volatility (in material costs) anymore,” he said. said Hudak. “This is one of the reasons why we are here at the beginning of January.

“He blocks materials, gets items with long lead times to order.” We are pushing to get things ordered so you can move the materials forward. “

Campbell asked the board to consider holding a special meeting, possibly next week, to vote on the project.

“I think what I’m hearing Andy (Hudak) say is the sooner we can order stuff and get started, the better,” Campbell said. “So if we can cut even a week, it might make a difference to finish the product a week earlier.”

Campbell said last year that the board was set to consider a contract in March 2020 with Higley Co. to begin the renovation project. But it was decided at that time not to continue any work due to the financial uncertainties of the pandemic.

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