LEETONIA — The Leetonia School District has been awarded a grant of nearly $200,000 annually for the next five years.
During his report Superintendent Dennis Dunham announced that the Columbiana Educational Service Center had been awarded the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center grant on behalf of the district.
Dunham said that “through the hard work of Mr. John Dilling, Superintendent Anna Marie Vaughn, Assistant Superintendent Marie Williams, and the staff at ESC,” the district would receive $196,400 annually for five years in support of the district’s innovative career exploration program. Dunham said that through the funding the district would be able to host after-school programming for grades 7 throuh 12, aimed at helping students prepare for and enter the professional world.
“We’re going to be able to provide after-school programs for grades 7 to 12 for internships, apprenticeships potentially, 12 hours per week, after-school hours,” said Dunham.
Dunham said that the program will allow for students to work with community business partners both on site at the business and remotely to
develop a clearer picture of what careers they may enjoy and excel in, noting the district has “a ton of business partners that are anxious to develop kids.”
“It comes down to career exploration and developing skills. The kids can work and partner with the business in Columbiana County outside the school day. It can be kind of trial and error at times, think about all the things we’ve done in our life before we found that niche, we’re asking our students to take interest in some opportunities that may not be available to a lot of other districts in the state of Ohio,” said Dunham.
Dunham said that the program will be “ramping up” in the coming weeks, and also called for parental involvement in the program, referring to it as “an important piece to this that we can’t overlook.”
“Our parents have to be involved, and those after-school hours may enable them, outside the workday, to be involved in developing those professional skills,” said Dunham.
Dunham also praised the district staff’s hard work to ensure that the district was ready for the return of students Aug. 21. Dunham also praised both staff and students on an incredible start to the new school year, noting that walking through the building on the third day of classes, procedures had already been set and genuine learning had begun already in all grades throughout the district.
“They were exceptional. We’ve had a great start, I’m not sure we’ve had a smoother start in quite some time; and the reason I say this, when I walked down the hallway even as early as Tuesday and this morning, teaching and learning is taking place. We’re not talking about routines, we’re not lining kids up to see who’s first to the restroom, it was teaching and learning genuinely happening in all grade levels K through 12. Under one roof you can really see that taking place,” said Dunham.
Dunham also said that the district’s before- and after-care program which supervises students prior to school begins from 7 to 8:30 a.m., and after-school concludes from 3:30 to 5 p.m., which Dunham said would typically not begin operating until at least a week after students returned.
“We’ve really started to guide our students, that we have three months off, but not so much three months of learning off. We really hit the ground running and are really proud of where we are in terms of getting a really good jumpstart on the year,” said Dunham.
Several personnel matters and a pair of administrative items were also approved.
Personnel matters approved included: the hire of long-term social studies substitute teacher Valerie Vittori for the 2023-2024 school year; the resignation of Tricia Viets, effective Aug. 9; the hire of fourth-grade teacher Kayla Klacik for the 2023-2024 school year under a one-year limited teaching contract; the hire of long-term substitute 7-12 comprehensive science teacher Andris Baltputnis; the hire of part-time cook Nancy Coleman for the 2023-2024 school year; the hire of part-time front door office assistant Tiffani Heverly under a one-year limited contract for the 2023-2024 school year; the appointment of Dr. Joseph Scott as athletic team physician for the 2023-2024 school year; four days of unpaid leave for Lisa Blosser from Sept. 5-8; before/after school program staff for the 2023-2024 school year; athletic and non-athletic supplementals for the 2023-2024 school year; the list of fall game workers and volunteers for the 2023-2024 school year; the resignation of Assistant Varsity Football Coach Ahmed Ali; the hire of substitute teacher Alicia Eller; and the hire of long-term van/bus substitute Jane Luxeuil for the 2023-2024 school year. The hire of Title tutor Jamie Kukunis was also approved in a special meeting Monday.
Administrative matters approved included: a lump sum payment to non-union employees as per LEA/OAPSE agreements; and a contract for teacher of students with visual impairments services with Wills Mobility & Vision Services LLC for the 2023-2024 school year.