by Chris Studor
June 27 board of education meeting
The Highland Board of Education authorized school district Treasurer Neil Barns to enter into a contract with Kiko Auctioneers to handle all aspects of putting the former Hinckley Elementary School up for auction.
As of June 27, the time and date of the auction had yet to be determined, although Highland Superintendent Katherine Aukerman said she suspects it will take place before summer’s end.
The board recently sought to rezone the land from residential to commercial zoning.
Board member, Chris Wolny, who represented the board at the recent zoning meeting, said the district could obtain a substantially higher price for the land if it were zoned business versus residential.
Wolny said the board has “a responsibility to the taxpayers to do due diligence and get as much money for the former school property as possible in order to reduce the taxpayers’ burden. He said money from the land sale would be put back directly into the district’s general fund.
Wolny pointed out that the Medina County Planning Commission recommended that the land be rezoned to business and the Hinckley Township’s own Future Land Use Map, contained in the township’s current Comprehensive Plan, outlines the area as a present and future business district.
When it came up for a vote this month, however, township officials rejected the board’s request to rezone the land to business zoning 2-1 with trustees Monique Ascherl and Jack Swedyk voting against the rezoning.
Former trustee, Jim Burns, said he believes that Ascherl should have recused herself from voting on the rezoning since the Ascherl family owns land near the school property. He said a possible ethics violation has been filed with the state ethics commission.
As of press deadlines, it was unclear as to how the commission ruled on the potential violation.
Should the elementary school property be sold at auction, it is possible that the new landowners will also seek to rezone the land to commercial zoning.
In other business:
- The board entered into an agreement with the Highland Education Association for a three year contract with increases as follows: a base salary increase of 2.65% effective July 1, 2022; a base salary increase of 2.75% the second year; and a base salary increase of 2.85% the third year. There were no major language changes, Aukerman said. The contract does stipulate that teachers will be paid $35 an hour for professional learning take outside the regular school year (mostly summer classes) and also provides for sick leave for teachers caring for a sick individual if they are a legal guardian or have power of attorney.
- The board approved the hiring of three additional security officers, through the Medina County Sheriff’s Office and Hinckley Police Department, for Hinckley, Sharon and Granger Elementary schools. The district already has security officers for Highland Middle School and Highland High School.
- At the board meeting, Curriculum Director Laurie Bodecker said the district is adopting new textbooks for its world language department. She said the district is on a seven-year adoption cycle for new textbooks. Currently the district offers five years of French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese and four years of Latin. Bodecker said many staff members participated in the initial textbook selection process with special help from former Spanish teacher Elaine Swope, who performed an administrative internship in Highland and helped develop the learning rubric for the classes.
- It was announced that the decade winner of the Great Hornet Alumni Dash was the decade of 2010-2019. A $1,000 scholarship will be given in the decade’s name to a graduating senior next spring.
- Aukerman said the district remains short six bus drivers for next school year. If additional drivers cannot be found, the district may have to add students to buses and/or lengthen bus routes. She asked that parents, who intend to drive their students each day to notify the district so that additional student can be placed on those buses. Aukerman said the district will hire drivers who want only or morning or evening routes as well as those who prefer working morning and evening routes. ∞