The first New Richmond Exempted Village School District Board of Education meeting of 2023 saw updates on several key topics.
Majority of the meeting centered on discussion about new guidance for arming school employees issued by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine last month.
In December 2022, the governor’s office announced the training standards that would be put in place to allow educators to carry concealed weapons at schools.
Those standards include a combined 15 hours of instruction in several topics, four hours of scenario-based training, a two-hour course of fire, and a written test.
With those guidelines in place, the New Richmond Exempted Village Board of Education elected to move forward with the drafting of a policy for arming staff members in the district.
Each board member shared their thoughts on the topic. Robert Wooten started the discussion by sharing the results of a survey conducted by the district late last year.
In that survey, 44.35 percent of New Richmond’s staff supported arming teachers and other staff members. A total of 42.17 percent did not.
Among families in the district, 64.09 percent supported arming staff members while 26.68 percent did not.
“I don’t know if a community survey is enough,” Wooten said. “I think we might need to do some public hearings to let people speak their mind, hear from them directly.”
Vice President Amy Story shared her belief in the importance of mental health evaluations in the process, citing the work the district is doing with 1n5 as an important piece of the puzzle.
“I’m really pleased to see the district focused on mental health supports for students and staff,” Story said. “These are true preventative measures, providing further resources upstream…I would request that if the administration goes forward with drafting policy, we consider mental health screenings for those who volunteer to be armed and we ensure building, administrations and boards maintain authority over who can be armed.”
Board president Jonathan Zimmerman concurred with Story, expressing his desire to tackle the issue from multiple sides.
“We have to attack issues like this with a multiple-pronged approach,” Zimmerman said. “The mental health work we’re doing right now is one prong and this is an additional deterrent.”
No action on this issue was taken at the meeting. More information regarding public input and district policy will be made available at a later date.
District receives clean audit
Last month, the district received the results of a financial audit for the year ending June 30, 2022. Treasurer Matthew Prichard reported no issues were found.
“Every year, each district is required to have an audit completed of their finances,” Prichard said. “We had a good audit this year, nice and clean. No critical violations.”
Superintendent Tracey Miller praised Prichard and his staff for their work in keeping the district’s finances above board.
“This is your first report,” Miller said. “We had one last year that was a previous treasurer’s report. [This clean audit] didn’t happen by magic, I want to congratulate you and your staff…It’s important for our community to know we’ve watched every dime we spend.”
“Having a great department helps a lot,” Prichard added.
SRO contract revision saves district money
In addition, the district also approved a revised contract for services with the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s fantastic news,” Miller said. “The Clermont County Commissioners are picking up a portion of the salary of the SROs in Clermont County. Over the course of the contract, it’ll save us substantial money, $90,000 to $100,000.”
That savings will be spread over the next three years, according to Mr. Miller.
January is BOE Appreciation Month
Superintendent Miller took the time to thank the board of education for the time and effort they put into serving the community.
“To the general public, I’m sure they don’t realize how much time you put into being a board of education member,” Miller said. “I’ve been told we have really high-functioning board of education meetings. That doesn’t happen by accident. They do a lot of committee work, they do a lot of reading, and they stay connected to the district.”
Beth Webster Leading Lions honored
Sarenity Wells and Amber Skinner were named January’s Beth Webster Leading Lions. More about their calm and collected actions under pressure can be found here.
NRMS, NRHS handbooks approved
Handbooks for New Richmond Middle School and New Richmond High School were officially approved. No changes were made to the middle school handbook. One small change designating wrestling as a sport offered to both boys and girls was made in the high school handbook.
The February meeting for the New Richmond Board of Education is scheduled for Tuesday, February 21 at 6 p.m.
The January 2023 meeting is available for viewing online here.