SUNBURY — The Big Walnut Local Schools Board of Education took time during its Jan. 13 meeting to commend Superintendent Angie Hamberg for her leadership.
Board Vice President Stephen Fujii thanked Hamberg during member comments, regarding how she has handled busing and staff shortages during the pandemic.
“We look around and we see 12 Columbus Public Schools closed today, up from nine,” Fujii said. “We see around our state and around our region where districts have been struggling. I appreciate that the most we’ve done is adjust some schedules for early dismissal or late start to accommodate our driver shortages. I wish to continue to show appreciation for our staff and our in-person model.”
New board member Alice Nicks agreed, saying it has taken a lot of creativity on the part of teachers and district employees to continue with their jobs despite staffing shortfalls.
“I really cannot give enough accolades to our bus drivers because they have the whole class with their back to them,” Nicks said. “That’s one of the groups we need to help and support in any way we can.”
New member Angela Graziosi said family members from upstate called her and were surprised to learn Big Walnut schools were in session.
“I want you to know you have the community behind you in keeping the schools open,” Graziosi said to Hamberg.
“One of the challenges is we still have some open positions that we’re not able to fill, so that when people are out sick, it’s just compounded,” Hamberg said. “I do want to thank our staff members who are having to fill in for the teachers when they’re out. They’re not getting their planning done, which is really challenging and they’re trying to adjust their lessons based on what they’re doing. That’s extra time for them outside of the workday. … Everybody’s kind of jumping in, doing things they don’t normally do. … We want to make we open our doors to the kids who are well and able to come.”
Hamberg said she taught second grade the other day, and the students wanted to call her hamburger. “I settled on Mrs. H,” she said to laughter.
Two members of the public spoke during the participation portion of the meeting. A Sunbury resident asked the board to consider another mental health provider for the district, examine the textbooks, library books, cell phone policy, and dress code policy for students and staff. She said students’ minds should be filled with “goodness and joy.”
Referring to COVID-19 and keeping schools open, a Galena resident said, “The madness is still going on all around us, and I implore our school district to continue to lead in getting the world back to normal.”
The board unanimously passed a memorandum of understanding between the City of Sunbury and the district regarding Sunbury police officers being assigned as a school resource officer.
Hamberg said the district still has a relationship with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, but due to growth, “We definitely have a need for more support.”
She said traffic flow to the new schools (Prairie Run Elementary and the relocated Big Walnut High School) “hasn’t been too bad … it’s going pretty smoothly so far.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.