Marlee Carroll, a student of Hilltop High School, will be making a trip to Pittsburgh to attend the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), thanks to the success of her own science fair project.
The Millcreek-West Unity Board of Education saw first hand how impressive that project was, as Carroll stood before them during their March regular meeting and explained the components and data of her project. It involved the effects certain types of oils, such as cinnamon and peppermint, had on cultured bacteria.
This project earned Carroll a perfect forty out of forty points at the Regional Science Fair. At Districts, she was able to qualify for the State Science Fair with a thirty-seven out of forty score. Perhaps more importantly, her project has earned Carroll an invitation to ISEF.
ISEF is the largest non-collegiate science fair in the world. One year, the competition had 1,783 finalists going head to head with one another. It should be noted that Carroll won’t be competing herself, however. She has been invited as an observer, as those in charge of the fair may see the potential for her to reach even greater scientific heights next year.
The board approved $400 in expenses to be covered for Carroll during her stay in the Steel City.
Carroll wasn’t the only one to address the board, however, as Food Services Manager Ellie Shinhearl also spoke at the meeting. Amid the recent controversy involving the school’s lunch policies, particularly those dealing with a child whose lunch account has been overdrawn, a lot of claims have been made. Shinhearl sought to clear up a few things.
“This is not a local issue. It’s not a regional issue. It’s not a state issue.” Shinhearl said of the negative account policy.
“It’s a national issue.”
According to Shinhearl, she is merely following U.S.D.A. policy when she denies a hot meal to a child with an account $7 overdrawn, instead serving them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She cited an encounter she had with U.S.D.A. Consultant Jackie Sharp, who made the claim that such a policy is necessary as well.
Shinhearl went on to explain that emailing, texting, or instant messaging updates on accounts to parents is impossible with the current software the school uses to keep track of its lunch records.
She did recommend that communication issues needed to be worked out, so that they could have a better idea of where their child’s account balance is at during a given time.
The board agreed, and took action to rectify some of these issues. The Meals Plus software used by the school requires families to pay a one-time fee of $10 to view the account balance of their kids. In order to simplify things, the district will now be picking up that tab, making the information free for parents to view. Forty-four families have already paid the fee, and will be reimbursed by the school.
As she wrapped up her prepared remarks, Shinhearl reminded those in attendance that everyone wants the same thing; to get each student a hot lunch everyday.
“We all have a common goal.” She claimed.
It should be noted that the issue of dumping lunches did not come up in Shinhearl’s statements, and that she has denied ever doing so on several occasions.
Related to the lunch issue, the board is still waiting to put a $100 donation, which was given to help with the problem, to use. Treasurer Tracy Thompson explained that she knows how she would like to see the money used, but needs to run the idea past the district’s legal team to ensure no regulations will be violated by the plan. The money will presumably be used to help offset the negative balance of a child who would normally be denied a standard lunch.
Board President Sarah Carothers expressed her regret over the amount of time it has taken to apply that money toward its intended purpose.
“We apologize that we’re taking so long.”
Elementary Principal Laura Springer saw her retirement accepted by the board, effective May 29 of this year. She has been with Hilltop Elementary for three years. Several board members expressed thanks for the efforts Springer has put into her job, as well as sadness that she will be leaving her position. One board member in particular, fellow retiree Ron Baker, had a bit of practical advice for the elementary principal.
“Either you or your husband have to get out of the house.” Baker joked. “It’s good for your health.”
Michael P. Polley, former School Resource Officer, also turned in his resignation from the position of Junior High Track Coach. He will be replaced by Kenneth R. Brown. Bringing eighteen years of experience to the position, Brown is well qualified to take over the program. He will share a payment of $840.67 with two assistant coaches.
In other hires made by the district, Doug Williams and Tyler Shipman were approved as volunteer baseball coaches, with Shipman needing to complete his certification before his role becomes official. Also, Kim Goosman is now a substitute para professional for Hilltop.
The board concluded the meeting by entering into Executive Session in order to discuss the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of public employees or regulated individuals. No action was expected.
They will next meet on April 20, at 6:00 P.M. In the school’s library.
T.J. Hug can be reached at