Board moves forward in electing Zuro’s replacement, updates public comments format

by Judy Stringer

Aug. 8 school board meeting

The Hudson City School Board nominated four applicants to be interviewed for the board seat recently vacated by David Zuro. Those applicants are Lesley Hoover, Laura Jones, Laura Griffiths and Christine Callahan.

Zuro announced his resignation unexpectantly at the July 18 school board meeting, due to “unanticipated personal health developments.” He had been on the board since 2010 and served as president for 11 years.

At the Aug. 8 meeting, board Vice President Steve DiMauro reported that 18 district residents requested applications to fill Zuro’s seat and 12 of them returned their applications by the deadline.

“The board intends to fill the board vacancy at our next meeting on Aug. 22,” DiMauro said.

Prior to the nomination, applicant Mark Justice advocated on his behalf, reminding the board that he “earned the vote of 31,000-plus Hudson voters” for Zuro’s board seat last November.

“I was the runner-up to Mr. Zuro in that election,” he said. 

DiMauro also highlighted updates to the board meeting agenda regarding public comments. Pursuant to board policy, DiMauro said, the public comment section on the agenda will now include language affirming that the public comment period is limited to 30 minutes total with each commentor permitted three minutes to speak.

“Many times, 30 minutes is adequate,” he said. “If we find ourselves in a situation where we need more than those 30 minutes, a member of the board may move to extend the 30 minutes, and it is our intent to do so.”

The updates also combine the public comment period for agenda and non-agenda items into a single item at the beginning of the meeting. Previously, the public was invited to comment on agenda items at the beginning of the meeting and non-agenda at the end. DiMauro said that change is intended to allow people to address the board on any topic without sitting through the entire meeting.

Board member James Field questioned whether a 30-minute public comment period restriction should be a policy.

“Particularly by combining the comments, you’ll probably have more people commenting. … I do not want anyone coming to feel like somehow they were cut off because they were not part of the first 10 who commented,” he said.

Board member Alisa Wright added, “I guess maybe we should just consider whether we want to default to no time limit and then build in the ability to put in a limit under some circumstances if a majority agree.”

“Let’s see how things go,” DiMauro said. “We have never enforced our board policy with the 30-minute rule. We do not intend to do. So, if we find ourselves on two or three occasions [having to extend the 30 minutes], I would suggest and agree let’s just change board policy.”

Justice and resident Kathy Lowman, speaking during the public comment period, asked the board to keep a portion of the end of the meeting available for public comments so that people attending the meeting could provide feedback on issues that came up during the meeting.

Safety and security

In his first board meeting at HCSD, Superintendent Dana Addis said he has been impressed with the level of community interest and engagement in the district and is excited to get the school year underway.

Addis and Pupil Services Director Kelly Kempf also discussed measures aimed at enhancing the safety and security of students. Addis said Hudson recently learned it had been awarded a $250,000 School Safety Grant from the state of Ohio and is in “initial discussions” about how to use that funding. In addition, Addis said two safety groups, including a committee comprised of safety forces and school administrators, had met to review the district’s security practices and evaluate the need for updates or changes.

With respect to mental health supports, Kempf said the district will contract with Child Guidance and Family Solutions to make another clinical counselor available to students. The district then will have three total clinical counselors – one full time at the high school, one full time at the middle school and one to support the elementary students – according to Kempf. It will also extend by one full day the availability of a mental health specialist through Minority Behavioral Health Group and increase the time contracted with Summit Educational Service Center for a board-certified behavioral specialist. 

Kempt said the changes are based on “increased needs and requests.”

“Then we are using current staff in a way that allows for some of the testing administrative support at the high school to go to a staff member who wasn’t teaching all day so that some of our counselors then could be more forward facing in high school with students,” she said.

In other meeting news, the board approved a proposed collective bargaining agreement with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, which represents support staff such as educational aides, administrative assistants, and maintenance, custodial and nutrition services staff. Terms of the agreement were not made available at the meeting. In a follow-up email, Treasurer Phil Butto said the agreement is “not yet drafted” and would be made available at a later date.

Human Resources Director Lisa Hunt said the district is “getting close to being fully staffed.” She noted openings for lunch and recess aids and for nutrition services.  ∞