EAST LIVERPOOL — East Liverpool City School District Board member Larry Walton has been recognized as a 2021 All-Ohio School Board Member, the highest honor the Ohio School Board Association bestows upon individual board members.
Walton officially received the award in November at a large event in Columbus which he attended with his wife. OSBA Northeast Regional Director Reno Contipelli attended Tuesday’s board meeting to further honor Walton.
“It’s a pearl, an institution. It just shows you what the people of Columbus think of you, that you are cherished by your peers and that we think the world of you,” said Contipell. “One day I know you won’t be sitting there but you will be missed.”
Out of 19 counties and 225 schools, Contipelli said there are about 3,500 board members in Ohio with only five selected to be a member of the All-Ohio School Board. Walton was chosen unanimously by the Northeast Ohio Region Executive Committee.
Walton said receiving the award in November nearly brought him to tears. “I think the ultimate value of this award is that they are my peers and they chose me,” said Walton. “The award is not just for me, but for every man and woman who takes on this job.”
In other business, Mario Hernandez, Vice Chairman of the Board and representative of the Fawcett Foundation, made a big announcement. “The Fawcett Foundation has received an anonymous donation of half a million dollars that will directly impact our community,” Hernandez said, calling it a godsend. He said the funding will increase the amount of money available in September for grants and scholarships. “It’s exciting that we have people in the community giving back,” he said. “It’s just huge. I can’t say the person’s name, but I’m so grateful they did this for the Fawcett Foundation.
Ohio House Bill 290 was also discussed on Thursday. Dubbed the Backpack Bill, it was introduced in May and is currently in committee. The bill would require school funding to follow all students to the district of their choice and could be used for tuition, after-school care, testing fees and home-schooling supplies.
An addendum distributed at the meeting urged board members to consider a resolution to voice their opposition to the bill. According to the addendum: “Public schools risk unfairly losing funding if this bill passes. The bill in its current format would allow any K-12 student in Ohio to take a voucher at any charter or private school, diverting pre-public tax money. -approved towards private schools.
Board Vice Chairman Mario Hernandez also spoke about the legislature. “In reference to House Bill 290, I think it’s important for our constituents to know and understand that we don’t support this as advice,” he said. “I speak individually as a board member that I don’t support this at all.”
Superintendent Jonathan Ludwig presented his report at the meeting. He said the district’s COVID numbers were down last week compared to other local districts. “It’s a good thing in the ever-changing world of policies and updates we’ve had to deal with and I’m proud that our staff continues to adapt and overcome,” he said.
And finally, at the end of January, Ludwig also took the time to thank council members for their contributions to the district. January is School Board Appreciation Month in Ohio and is celebrated by more than 700 school districts. According to a district press release, the school board is responsible for an annual budget of $58 million, 2,019 students, 300 employees, five schools, and 13 comprehensive vocational and technical programs located on campus.
“Our school board members are citizen servants who carry out essential responsibilities and often make tough choices for our district, all on minimal pay,” said Ludwig. “They are always focused on the future success of the children in our district.
The next board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 24.