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Toronto board branches out with college courses



DISCUSSION — A new set of bleachers for the Toronto High School Marching Band and a proposed day soccer camp for younger children was among matters discussed Thursday by members of the Toronto Board of Education. — Warren Scott

TORONTO — Toronto High School students interested in earning college credits before graduation will have two new options, following action Thursday by the Toronto Board of Education, which also approved the addition of bleachers at Clarke Hinkle Stadium for the school’s marching band.

At the recommendation of Superintendent Maureen Taggart, the board approved memorandums of understanding with Belmont College and Stark State College allowing the two schools to offer Toronto students courses through the state’s College Credit Plus program in the next school year.

Students could earn two-year associate degrees from both schools.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Taggart said of the new agreements, “We wanted to make sure that we offered our high school students a pathway to an associate degree.”

About 20 Toronto High School seniors, one-third of its graduating class, is expected to finish with an associate degree through Eastern Gateway Community College while other students also are enrolled in college courses through Kent State University.

The future of CCP at Eastern Gateway has been uncertain since the college was ordered by the Ohio Department of Higher Education to halt admissions, but officials with Youngstown State University have expressed an interest in continuing the program in Steubenville.

Taggart said she has requested a similar agreement with YSU but in the mean time, five Toronto teachers have been approved to serve as adjunct instructors for Belmont College at the high school.

She said the instructors will teach college-level courses in English, math, French and science, including a college-level biology and anatomy course new to the school.

Taggart said through Stark State College, students will be able to enroll in online courses they may access at any time, as is the case with Toronto students currently enrolled with Kent State.

In related business, Taggart said she has approached Belmont College about possibly providing a Spanish course following the retirement in November of Gladys Abbott.

On Thursday, the board accepted resignations from Abbott, a native of Costa Rica who has taught at the high school since 2008; and first-grade teacher Heather Keenan, who has been with the school district for 24 years.

“We’re sad to see both of them go. They were wonderful teachers, and we wish them both the best,” said Taggart.

The board also approved the $27,655 purchase and installation by the Southern Bleacher Co. of bleachers for the marching band.

Taggart said a set of portable bleachers for the band currently is transported from the football field to the baseball field as needed.

With the installation of the new bleachers within one of two shade shelters at the stadium, the old ones will remain at the baseball field, she said.

Taggart said a concrete pad has been poured for the new bleachers and they are slated to be installed before the next football season.

The expenditure was one of three approved by the board that will be funded with the remainder of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds awarded to the school district.

The others were a new network server and software that will serve the elementary and junior-senior high schools, in the amount of $14,428; and three electronic presentation boards with Internet access, for $10,055.

In related business, the board accepted Debbie Phillips as volunteer majorette instructor for the and and Rich Coburn as its volunteer drumline instructor.

Also approved was the sale of raincoats worn by band members, who will be receiving new ones.

Available for $5 each, the old coats may be purchased through the Toronto High School Band Parents.

Also on Thursday:

• Board member Jay Foster said he and volunteer Ralph LeMasters are interested in organizing a weekly summer soccer camp for T-ball age youth. Foster said the camp could be held on Saturday mornings and would be informal, involving some instruction followed by pick-up games.

He said if there’s not a conflict, it could be held on the school’s football field.

“This would just be a free activity for city kids, just to get them off the couch,” he said.

• The board approved hirings of the following athletic personnel: Hunter Sistelli head golf coach; Sean Tucker, senior high head boys basketball coach; John Lester, assistant boys basketball coach; Floyd Thompson, freshmen boys basketball coach; Chad Daugherty, junior high head boys basketball coach; David Blawut, senior high head wrestling coach; and Josh Danko, junior high head wrestling coach.

• It was announced the board’s next meeting will be at 5 p.m. April 18 at the Toronto Junior-Senior High School Library following a meeting at 4:15 p.m. of its buildings and grounds committee.

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