The Washington Court House City Schools Board of Education held its organizational meeting on Monday evening with Ken Upthegrove being elected by the board as president and Dennis Garrison being voted in as vice president for the coming year.
Starting off the meeting, Chuck Winkle — who served as president pro tem prior to the voting — called the meeting to order with all board members present. After reaching the agenda item, board member Jennifer Lynch nominated Upthegrove for president of the board. With no other nominations and following a vote, Upthegrove was appointed.
“I have been on the board for 25 years and have served as president now seven or eight times,” Upthegrove said.
When asked about the passing of the district’s 1 percent earned income tax levy — which passed 765 “for” and 754 “against” during a special election in August — and future plans for the district, Upthegrove said this year he hopes the district can continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to get through this COVID situation,” Upthegrove said. “Ultimately with the levy passing we will be able to increase some wages and to get more staff and keep the staff we have, that is probably the key. We lost a lot of good teachers to districts around us because they were able to pay four or five thousand dollars more and we are not going to be able to keep up with that, but if we are a lot closer — and likely with the good things going on in our district — we won’t lose staff. The board is great and I really appreciate them having confidence in me to lead this board. They are great people and so any of the five could have taken the position and done well, I just happened to be the one they chose.”
After the first vote, Upthegrove led the board in deciding the vice president for the coming year with Lynch nominating Garrison. Garrison — who just completed his first year as a member of the district’s board of education — has been serving as a legislative liaison for the district and continues to keep the board updated on impending or important legislation that could impact the district — such as more funding becoming available via state budgets or emergency relief.
“I have always been very active through the industries that my company belongs to as a lobbyist and liaison for industry over the years, so it was kind of a natural chain of events for me to be involved in legislative issues,” Garrison said. “Now the legislative issues for a school board are different than industry, but the contacts are the same, people are the same, the relationships that you develop are the same, so it goes hand-in-hand.”
Garrison also took time to comment on the passage of the tax levy and noted that he originally ran for the board with the intent of passing a tax levy.
“One of the reasons I ran for the board was to get a levy passed and obviously we got a levy passed,” Garrison said. “So I would consider that to be a major achievement going forward and a school district is like a business. You need to have a sound fiscal policy and you have to have sound funding to move forward to address the needs of your staff, your people and curriculum requirements. I think we are on a lot better footing. So the position that we are in is a lot better than before the levy passed. I think the board works very well together as a group. The board members are all a part of the same community and we have the same goals that we are trying to achieve, and I just want to thank them for all of their hard work.”
Stay with the Record-Herald for more on this meeting later this week.
Reach Martin Graham on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.