Reacting to unsubstantiated rumors that the Swanton Board of Education had decided to take a neutral position with regards to the proposed Norfolk Southern railcar staging project on the eastern edge of their community, a large contingent of anxious residents attended the Board’s October 19 meeting to voice their concerns and garner support for their anti-railyard cause.
Following the meeting’s preliminaries, Board President Steve Brehmer called for anyone wishing to address the Board to do so at that time. Three members of the crowd took advantage of the opportunity with Mary Solomon of Swanton Township speaking first.
“This is a safety and health issue for our children,” stated Ms. Solomon. “And it (railyard) will eventually reduce school enrollment because who would want to live here in an unsafe environment for their children.” Ms. Solomon went on to urge the Board to step up, both verbally and financially, and work with the Township to prevent this “atrocity” from going forward.
Swanton resident Nicholas Cole and Swanton School bus driver Karen Underwood followed and echoed Ms. Solomon’s main point, the safety and welfare of Swanton students and cited several logistical challenges the additional train traffic would create.
After everyone had spoken Mr. Brehmer presented a prepared resolution addressing the Board’s railyard impact concerns which included the disruption of student transportation, the safety of student who walk to and from school, increased noise and the potential devaluation of local real estate which would result in lower school tax revenue.
The resolution also charged Superintendent Jeff Schlade to “convey to the responsible individuals at Norfolk Southern a copy of this resolution and request that Norfolk Southern provide a response and, if the project goes forward, Norfolk Southern will provide assurances that it will implement measures that address the Board’s safety and transportation concerns.” The Board approved the resolution with a unanimous vote.
Reports on finances and investments were given by Treasurer Joyce Kinsman and approved by the Board with a three to two vote with Dave Smith and Chris Nijakowski dissenting.
A resolution related to the financing for the building project and building consolidation which will allow the district to finance up to 1.8 million dollars which is about 30% of the total project over a ten-year period was also approved four to one with Mr. Nijakowski voting no.
Ms. Kinsman also gave an overview of the district’s five-year forecast including moving from a four-building to a three-building configuration. The Board voted five to zero for approval. The forecast will be submitted to the Ohio Board of Education.
In other news, the Board approved an internship program between Swanton schools and Ashland University for six student teaching positions. They also approved contracts for 32 employee positions within the district.
Leigh Pancoast, Brooke Chinni, and Ariel Ohlemacher are designated approved to pass medication(s) to students according to ORC 3313.713 upon completion of the required training.
The annual Washington, DC trip for eight graders was approved and will take place between May 17 and May 21. Brooke Chinni and Ariel Ohlemacher will act as advisors, assisted by Mr. Matt Smith.
Bill O’Connell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org