Board Member Disagrees With New Worker’s Hours

OHIO COUNTY – Ohio County Board of Education member Gary Kestner is concerned about a newly hired worker being allowed to paint the interior of school buildings during school hours.

During a regular meeting Monday at Triadelphia Middle School, Kestner abstained from voting to hire Delbert Huffman for a 261-day general maintenance position. Huffman is expected to take on painting jobs at the various schools in the district during school hours.

Board members James Jorden, Christine Carder, Sarah Koegler and Shane Mallett voted “yes” and the hiring was approved.

In addition to painting, Huffman will hold three other jobs: general maintenance, mason and truck driver and work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. He will service all Ohio County schools.

However, after the meeting, Kestner expressed concern the position would include painting the interiors of Ohio County Schools during the day while students are in school.

“Common sense tells us that we can’t paint a classroom or paint a hallway when there are 200 children in a building,” Kestner said. “It has nothing to do with the individual. It’s the hours for the position that I disagree with, so I thought it was best not to vote at all.”

Kestner said he chose to abstain instead of voting against the hiring because “it was best not to vote against the wishes of the other individuals.”

Kestner also noted the individual would be paid the rate for mason, the highest pay rate, he said, of the four responsibilities of the position.

“The individual will be paid for a higher rate for the job, which isn’t fiscally responsible for the taxpayer,” Kestner said. “The reason I abstained is I believe that striving for efficiency and fiscal responsibility and that the job could be better utilized as an afternoon position.”

After the meeting, Superintendent Dianna Vargo said she could not determine off hand the exact salary Huffman will receive for the position. Vargo said the position was posted as a day shift to accommodate all of the various responsibilities of the job in addition to painting.

“Painting is one piece of what he will do,” Vargo said. “We prioritize our jobs and then allocate the time for painting, which could be done on closed days or the summer, which is a big time for painting. To maximize the overall effectiveness it was most appropriate to post the job from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.”

Meanwhile, the board also approved hiring Janette Bragg for an alternative education teacher assigned to Crittenton Service Corp. and Leah Morris for a Title I Mathematics teacher assigned to Elm Grove Elementary School.

Also during the session, board members Jorden, Kestner, Koegler, Carder and Mallett, went into a closed-door meeting for 30 minutes with Vargo and other administrators to discuss a legal matter. No decisions were made, according to board members.

Also during the meeting, the board recognized state Sens. Jack Yost, D-Brooke, and Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio, who were in attendance for securing funding requests for the Community Participation Project Grant which includes $20,000 for “Ben’s Field,” at the J.B. Chambers Youth Sport Complex in Elm Grove in the memory of Ben Taylor.

The board continued to hear from the local improvement councils of Triadelphia Middle School, Madison Elementary School, Steenrod Elementary School and Woodsdale Elementary School who presented their improvement goals for the 2012-13 school year.

The Ohio County Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 8 a.m. Sept. 28 at the board office to discuss personnel and reports.

The board will hold its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 8 at Wheeling Middle School.