PIQUA — With school shootings making national headlines, plus threats and rumors of violence hitting closer to home, the Piqua City Schools district and board of education are continuing to discuss ways to increase safety and reduce, if not eliminate, violence in area schools.
At the board of education’s meeting on Thursday, Superintendent Dwayne Thompson said the district has formed a new safety committee to focus on the matter.
“School safety is a big topic,” he said, adding that the committee has about 35-40 members so far and that students are encouraged to communicate with their teachers about their safety concerns and ideas.
Thompson noted that the Ohio School Board Association has proposed encouraging state legislators to invest money into supporting school safety, and that PCS is firmly in favor of this proposal, as evidenced by a resolution the board approved stating that they would implore the president, governor, U.S. congressmen and Ohio General Assembly to increase funding for such safety measures as mental health and substances abuse services, as well as hiring more school resource officers.
In other business, the board offered thanks and congratulations, and bid an early farewell to Springcreek Primary School Principal Connie Strehle, who will retire at the end of her contract.
Strehle, who has been with PCS since August 2014, has more than four decades of experience in education, having previously served as a teacher, counselor and principal in several other school districts. She holds several degrees, including a Ph.D. in educational leadership and administration from Miami University.
Strehle will be succeeded by current Assistant Principal Ross Loudenback, who was approved for the lead principal position in academic years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
“Connie has been a great mentor,” Loudenback said. “She’s really guided me through the process.”
Also tendering her resignation at the end of this school year is Jennie Gearhardt, assistant principal of Piqua Central Intermediate School. Gearhardt will move into a new role as an English teacher at Piqua Junior High School at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.
Josh Kauffman, principal of Piqua Central Intermediate School, where the meeting was held, gave a building update on student achievement at the school. Whereas building updates usually focus on academic matters, Kauffman chose to shine the spotlight on several student clubs at PCIS, including showing videos made by the American Sign Language and Bonding through Fitness and Food (BFF) clubs. The latter group is designed to empower girls through healthy friendships and healthy living, including learning about different foods and participating in fitness activities like yoga and Zumba.
Presentations were given by students in K-Kids, a community service group sponsored by the Piqua Kiwanis, as well as the Run Club. Zach Sale, a former Run Club member now attending Piqua Junior High School, talked about how Run Club changed his life.
“I’ve always been the biggest kid in my class and the slowest,” he said. But participating in Run Club helped him improve his running speed, which in turn, helped him become a better football player, he explained.
Assistant Superintendent Tony Lyons noted that it is now open enrollment season for the next school year. Applications for both inter-district (from outside PCS) and intra-district (within PCS) enrollees are due by May 15.
The board of education’s next regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. April 26, at Piqua Junior High School. BOE meetings can be viewed online at www.piqua.org/Boxcast.aspx.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at email@example.com or (937) 451-3341