UL votes ‘no’ on health clinic | News, Sports, Jobs - The Times Leader

2022-10-09 07:04:06 By : Mr. Yanbeen Deng

BELMONT– An on-site health clinic will not be coming to the Union Local School District campus, following a special session Thursday when the board of education voted down the proposal 4-1.

Board members Dylan Fowkes, Terry Puperi, Shaun Roe, and Ed Stenger voted against the clinic while Larry Cain voted in favor.

The possible clinic has been the subject of debate, including input from parents and staff, since May when Ohio Hills Health Centers broached the possibility, having been approved for the School Based Health Center Grant.

While many parents and staff saw potential in the clinic as a nearby option for medical services so that parents would not need to take time to transport their children to a physician, other staff and parents voiced reservations. Some were concerned about how 300 square feet of space could be found for a clinic, if safety could be guaranteed should students need to be transported to the building where it would be housed, and how parental consent for services would be maintained.

Prior to voting, board members heard from Kenny Webb of Jacobsburg who asked if the board’s first priority was education, followed by safety and security, rather than providing health services. He inquired if this should particularly hold true following the low score Union Local received on its report card through the Ohio Department of Education for the 2021-22 school year.

“Two things Union Local needs to focus on: education and fix the score,” Webb said.

The board went into a closed-door session for about an hour to discuss details relative to security arrangements and emergency response protocols and “matters to be kept confidential by federal or state law,” then cast their votes.

Webb said he believed the board made the correct decision.

“They listened to at least a small voice of reason,” he said. “We clearly have things we need to be focusing on, way before adding new things like this. On top of that, the board needs to focus on this institution being an institution of learning, not of taking the place of the parents.”

Afterward, board members were asked if they wished to elaborate on their decision.

“Everybody has their opinion,” Cain said. “I think it was a good idea.”

“In negotiations it kind of became clear that the two sides were just not going to be able to come together on some issues,” Roe said. “We thought it best to allow both parties to move on.”

He added the district will concentrate on improving education and finding a permanent superintendent after Ben Porter stepped down in August and was temporarily replaced by interim Superintendent Sam Lucas.

“We’re going to press on with some of our pressing needs from an education perspective,” he said.

Jeff Britton – CEO of Ohio Hills Health Centers, a UL graduate and parent of a UL student – was let down by the news.

“Obviously we are disappointed in the school board’s decision this evening. School officials reached out to OHHC two years ago asking for assistance in providing a higher level of care after their data revealed the need,” Britton said late Thursday. “The school based health center would’ve provided a tremendous benefit to UL students through the provision of accessible health and dental care. We understand Union Local has had turnover in key positions making moving forward with this project difficult but we respect their decision.”

In other matters, the board voted to hire Brianna Leach of Barnesville as a middle school problem solving teacher beginning Jan. 2, pending the conclusion of her student teaching in the St. Clairsville-Richland City School District and proper licensure/certification.

The board also went into a second closed-door session for about an hour to consider the employment of a public employee or official.

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