Board suspends uniform policy for Norton 21 students
Norton City Schools Board of Education
By Kim Gravis
The Norton City Schools District Board of Education decided to suspend the uniform policy for Norton 21 Elementary School students, effective next school year, according to district officials.
During the Feb. 26 board meeting, Vice President Laura Leonti read a statement from the board indicating that due to the addition of more students into the district, the board decided some new students would be placed in Norton 21, and feedback from parents indicated they did not want to participate in the uniform policy.
Norton 21, which is housed in Cornerstone Elementary School, consists of students in first through fourth grade who participate in a different curriculum than other elementary students in the district. Norton 21 students are the only students in the district who wear uniforms. The students interact with other grades in the school and learn from traditional and nontraditional teaching methods, according to district officials. Norton 21 has been in place for 13 years and was recently relocated to the Cornerstone building. Because Norton 21 students have some interaction with Cornerstone students, the board members thought that was another reason to suspend the uniform policy, according to district officials.
Several parents of Norton 21 students spoke out against the board’s decision.
Jeff Beach said taking away the uniform policy does not allow students to focus on their studies.
Another parent, Laura Coughenour, agreed, saying the board does not support the Norton 21 program and she has concerns that the program is facing problems due to lack of space after it was moved to Cornerstone.
Tim Longfellow, a parent of a second-year student in the program, said his daughter is receiving a quality education and would like the district to support the program as a whole and not cancel the uniform policy.
The board responded by taking the parents’ concerns under advisement.
In other business, Sue Hamilton, a teacher and secretary to the Norton Classroom Teachers Association, appeared before the board on behalf of the association in regard to the board deciding not to renew the coaching contract of Dave Weber, former Norton High School varsity football coach. Weber, who is employed by the district as a teacher, resigned from his supplemental contract duties Dec. 11. Weber said he resigned because the board informed him his contract would not be renewed for the 2007 football season.
Hamilton presented a letter to the board. No further action was taken in regard to Weber’s position or the letter presented by Hamilton.
Also during the meeting, the board:
heard from Des Wertheimer, from Schreiner Oil and Gas Co., regarding a proposal to drill for oil and gas on district property. Three sites have been proposed near the middle and high schools and the outdoor track, located on Cleveland-Massillon Road. It would cost the company $300,000 for each drill site. Once the work was done, the district would receive an eighth share of each well, which could total between $35,000 to $40,000. There also would be a natural gas allotment. If approved, the company would begin work the first of June and be finished by the beginning of the next school year. The board took his proposal under review;
accepted the retirement of Pat Santelli, music and band director for the intermediate, middle and high schools, effective July 1;
placed five people on the certified substitute list;
hired Chani Cowling as freshman softball coach and Teri Burnette as a volunteer assistant;
hired two teachers to provide academic instruction for ACT testing to high school students;
agreed to sell two buses to the Barberton City Schools District; and
received an update from Chris Williams regarding the new wrestling room that is being constructed at the rear of the high school building. Due to weather, the construction has been slow, but it is expected to resume this week with the roof being added. All contractors are on line for plumbing, electric and window and door installation. Williams remarked that some materials and labor have been donated, and a fund has been set up to cover costs as well. He is encouraged that the building should be completed by the end of April. He added that the wrestling program has increased in interest this year.
Leonti asked for a moment of silence to remember board member Cindy Webel and her family in the death of their daughter Nicole, who had been terminally ill, that afternoon. She then extended thoughts and prayers on behalf of the board members and the district.
The next regular Norton Board of Education meeting will be March 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Norton High School library, 4128 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road.