A student's idea for school personnel to wear identification badges is being implemented at Salem schools as part of the district's ongoing effort to improve security.
Superintendent Tom Bratten introduced fifth grader Aaron Jakobisn to school board members Monday night, presenting him with his own ID badge bearing his name and the title "Problem Solver."
"Badges are visual and represent safety," Bratten said.
He received an email from Jakobisn's mother, Melissa, over the summer about the idea highlighted in her son's fourth grade writing assignment to create a modern day school for the future.
"I just wrote down in the future all teachers would have ID badges," Jakobisn told the board.
He said his baby brother doesn't learn the same way he does and will walk up to anybody. He said he doesn't know who's a teacher and who isn't and a badge could help identify the teachers.
Bratten said they had talked about the idea previously and hearing about Aaron's essay reinforced the idea. He offered him the honorary badge as a token of the district's thanks. So far, the badges for the administration, board members, central office, Buckeye and Reilly schools have been completed and distributed. Next will be Southeast, the junior high and the high school.
In another safety matter, Bratten reported that during a recent Building & Grounds Committee meeting, discussion covered the possibility of installing new doors for security at Southeast and Buckeye. The estimated cost for the more secure doors, with the electronics included, would be $8,000 each. Without all the electronics, the cost would be about $6,000 each. He's checking into applying for a safety grant through the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which can give up to $5,000 per school building for new doors.
Just last month, he said the district received a grant from the OSFC for $2,000 for radios that can connect the schools directly with the police department.
In other business, the board said goodbye to one of their own, outgoing board member and current board President Andrew Null, and to longtime high school head custodian Al Hays, who's retiring effective Dec. 31 after 34 years with the district.
"Thank you all for the opportunity to serve," Null said.
He had announced this summer that he wasn't seeking a second term. In January he'll be replaced by Theodore Bricker, who ran unopposed for the seat this fall and also attended the meeting.
Null thanked the voters first and foremost for their support, then offered thanks to anyone connected to the school district. He said everybody in the district is dedicated to one common goal and that's educating the students.
Bratten presented him with two tokens of thanks, one for being a board member and one for his service as president this year. He said he took great deliberation with each decision and will be missed. Fellow board members also voiced their thanks for a job well done.
Hays was also recognized for his service and congratulated on his retirement, which the board accepted. High School Principal Dr. Joe Shivers said it was a sad day for him because he felt privileged to have worked with Hays. He said he was born to work in education and will be greatly missed.
In another announcement, Bratten announced that head varsity football coach Ron Johnson received word Monday that the team finished second for academic All-Ohio, earning a plaque and a $100 pizza party as part of the top six. The only team to finish above Salem was Anthony Wayne. The other top football teams for academics included Cincinnati Moeller, Toledo St. John, Clyde, Archbold, Westerville South and Huron.
"We're very proud of that," Bratten said.
The board also: approved a high school band trip to New York City from March 14-18; hired TerriAnn McFarland, Joe Ingledue and Francis Abel as classified substitutes; approved athletic supplemental positions for softball varsity assistant Bonnie Wilkinson, junior high wrestling assistant Shane Hostetter, high school wrestling volunteer Joe Hamilton, weight room volunteer Phil Bennett and swim volunteer Lisa Frederick; approved Adam Cirone as substitute teacher; and approved field trip dates for the Ski Club to Boston Mills on Jan. 12, 19, 26 and Feb. 9 and 16.
The board entered into an executive session for personnel with no action to be taken.
The organizational meeting for the board will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 8, followed by the tax budget meeting.