By Lance Mihm
ST. MARYS -- Paul Blaine's final board meeting as superintendent of St. Marys City Schools went as many have during the last two years -- with plenty of disagreements.
Several people attended a Wednesday night meeting to continue their show of concern about the selection process of next year's cheerleading squads. They also asked the board to create a freshmen squad so more girls could participate.
But the board denied their request, at the recommendation of an athletic committee put together to address the issue.
Cheerleading tryouts were May 14, and six members were selected for the varsity and junior varsity squad except for football, which will have eight cheerleaders.
Many of the parents are upset because 25 percent of the cheerleaders' scores were based on teachers' evaluations. After one student failed to make the squad, a teacher later said he did not understand the point system and changed the scores of that student, the parents claim. The score gave the girl, who is an administrator's daughter, enough points to be on the squad, so a seventh position was added to the squad to include the girl. In a separate incident, a girl who several parents felt was more qualified than others received a low teacher evaluation, which cost her a spot on the team. During the June 9 board meeting, board member Craig Gottschalk suggested creating a freshman squad and called for a vote. The vote drew two yes votes, one no vote and two abstentions, which would create the squad because abstentions count toward the majority vote. However, five minutes later another vote canceling the squad was passed by a 3-2 vote. Several lawyers contacted by The Daily Standard had conflicting opinions on whether the second vote was done under correct procedure. If not, the first vote would hold up.
At Wednesday night's meeting, resident Bill Kellermeyer voiced his concern about the chaotic display at the June meeting.
"The community expects the board of education to exhibit some level of competence," Kellermeyer said. "This is not the first time the board has done whatever it wants to the rules."
Several other residents complained about the cheerleading issue, which even included an accusation that the teacher changing his evaluation was persuaded.
"We think the administration coerced the teacher into changing his evaluation," said Cheri Fenwick, parent of a cheerleader.
The debate sparked a response from cheerleading adviser Mindy Vogel, who has remained quiet on the issue until this point.
"Up to this point I tried to stay out of this," she said. "This is not the way I want to accomplish anything. There is no scandal. In hindsight I would have done this whole thing different. I went through all 44 scores and in my judgment there was an error made on the one student. The choice was made and I am not going to tell this child she cannot be a cheerleader."
Pam Bailey, a parent whose child did not make the squad, said that the parents "were not finished with the issue."
Before the debate on the cheerleading tryouts, Blaine, whose last day is July 31, told the crowd, "I want to thank the board, the administrative staff and the whole community for their support over the last 17 years. I found it to be a real privilege to serve as superintendent in St. Marys. I'm just as excited about what the district will accomplish under (newly hired superintendent) Ken Baker. I really love this district. I am proud of all the students and staff and will miss it."
In other action at the meeting, Lisa Elson was hired as the new director of instruction.
The position was reinstated after Assistant Superintendent Todd Yohey announced his resignation earlier this year. Yohey was the director of instruction until 2001 when he became assistant superintendent. The director of instruction position has been unfilled since 2001. Now that it is filled, the board plans on leaving empty the assistant superintendent position.
A bid of $105,000 for the sale of Moulton School was accepted by the board.
The winning bid was awarded to Dr. Virgil Brown, a veterinarian whose office is located next to the school. Board member Rees McKee asked that the money from the sale of the school be earmarked as seed money in case the district would decide to again look at new facilities down the road, and board members agreed.