Board discusses creation of memorial garden, extends two contracts

by Laura Bednar

April 26 board of education meeting

The Independence Local Schools memorial committee discussed creating a memorial garden on the campus of the middle and high school. Committee members Joan Mencl, Independence Board of Education president, and T.J. Ebert, Independence Primary School principal, gave an update on the first meeting.

The goal of the memorial is to “honor those that have passed, no matter if they’re students, former employees, retirees, things like that,” said Ebert.

Mencl said the garden would include brick pavers with names of those connected to the school, whether in memoriam or honoring an entire graduating class.

“It is mainly to recognize, remember and honor, not to be a cemetery where people are putting flowers,” said Mencl.

The committee discussed having the brick pavers lead out to the school’s flagpole. Ebert said the location will be close enough to the school for access, but far enough away that those who are uncomfortable visiting don’t have to walk through it.

Mencl said the school could have a yearly gathering at the memorial garden to recognize the addition of new pavers.

During the next committee meeting, members will discuss a permanent location for the garden and how to sign up for pavers. Ebert also mentioned having industrial technology teacher Michael Foor’s class design the garden.

Board member Carrie Sears said if an entire class wants to add a memorial paver, the committee should consult the families of the deceased person to ensure they are comfortable with the recognition.


High school Principal Jamie Hogue and Assistant Superintendent Tom Dreiling were awarded three-year contracts through the 2024-25 school year. According to Treasurer Eric Koehler, Hogue’s contract is for $122,500 and includes retirement, Medicare, medical insurance, 20 vacation days and 10 holidays. Dreiling’s contract is for $130,500 and includes retirement, Medicare, medical insurance, 30 vacation days and 10 holidays.

Partnership and paving

Independence schools has partnered with New Story Schools, a school for students with autism and emotional support needs. New Story Schools opened in Independence in February and also offers occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and a transition program for older students entering the workplace.

The contract between Independence and New Story runs from April 2022 through July 2022 at $7,700 per month. Superintendent Ben Hegedish said the cost covers schooling, therapy and tuition.

Board members approved a $295,925 bid from All Ways Construction for parking lot paving at the high school in an area along Selig Drive, across from the Independence Fieldhouse. Dreiling said paving will begin in June and be completed before school starts in late August. ∞