Covington Board of Education accepts federal grants; moves forward with LifeWise program

COVINGTON — The Covington Board of Education met Wednesday, July 20, for their regular monthly meeting.

During the Treasurer’s Report, the board accepted federal grants for the 2023 fiscal year and gave approval to establish special cost centers.

The grants are as follows:

• Title I, targeted assistance – $126,365.56

• Title II-A, improving teacher quality – $19,620.52

• Part-B IDEA, special education enrichment – $160,109.02

• Title IV-A, student support – $11,666.29

Treasurer Carmen Siefring also made a note to parents to be prepared to pay your student fees at the open house on Monday, Aug. 22.

“We will have personnel available to assist with online payments or accept cash and check at that time,” said Siefring.

The new Superintendent, Joseph Hoelzle, announced that Covington would be moving forward with their partnership with LifeWise Academy.

“Board policy 5223 allows for that. It has been in place since 2004 and they are agreeing to follow our rules to implement that program,” said Hoelzle.

LifeWise Academy is a religious, release-time instruction program. Programs of this nature are permitted under Ohio revised code and Covington board policy provided they are offsite, privately funded, and opt-in. Students opted into LifeWise at Covington will be bussed to the J.R. Clarke Public Library to receive character-based, religious instruction once per week at no cost to the district.

Concerns have been raised in the past, in other districts approached by LifeWise and by Covington board members, about students missing specials such as physical education, art, music, and technology.

“A lot of times they are doubling up once a week with one of those specials. The kids that are opting in still have those specials once a week, but they will never have that special doubled up,” Hoelzle said while addressing those concerns.

Hoelzle also addressed concerns relating to the number of participants in Covington’s High School football program. The program is anticipating 21 students in the fall with a large majority of those being underclassmen.

“It’s not only just the number, but it’s the number of underclassmen we’re expecting to play,” said Hoelzle.

Hoelzle contacted Covington’s opponents for the first three weeks in a “spirit of transparency” noting that it would be unfair to hold their opponents to their contracts. Fort Loramie, Covington’s week three opponent, has since found another matchup for that week.

“We may schedule a JV game and it’s possible we may have a bye week and hopefully get the kids healthy going into league schedule,” said Hoelzle on the lack of a week three opponent.

Hoelzle also offered commendations to Athletic and Transportation Director, Ashley Johnson, on being appointed to the Ohio High School Athletic Association Southwest District Board of Directors.

“That is pretty prestigious for a school of our size. And I can tell you, coming from another district, she is very well respected with area athletic directors, and it is a good thing we have her on that board,” said Hoelzle.

Also on Wednesday, the board approved contracts with Clark, Schaefer, Hackett to aid in preparing a cash basis financial statement and with K-12 Business Consulting for the Ohio five-year forecast program. The costs of these contracts are $3,750 and $6,500 respectively.

The board approved the use of online lessons known as “Blizzard Bags” for make up day lessons. If the district uses its’ five snow days, the next three snow days will utilize these online lessons instead of tacking the make up days onto the end of the school year.

The following administrative contracts were approved:

• Courtney Downs, Junior High Principal – two years (new)

• James Sagona, District Technology and Curriculum Director – two years (renewed and amended)

• Josh Long, Elementary Principal – three years (renewed)

• Shawn Naff, Custodial Maintenance Coordinator – two years (renewed)

• Carmen Siefring, Treasurer – two years (renewed)

The board later adjourned to executive session and no further action was taken.

The next Covington Board of Education meeting has been moved to Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 5:30 p.m.