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AACS Board of Education approves bid for new fieldhouse at LJHS | Local News | #Education

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — Dirt will be moving soon to make way for Lakeside Junior High School’s new fieldhouse.

The Ashtabula Area City Schools Board of Education approved a $1.4 million bid Wednesday night from Declan Construction of Brookfield Township.

The district will use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to pay for the fieldhouse, Treasurer Mark Astornio said.
“COVID put the project on hold,” he said. “We hope to get it moving.”

The fieldhouse will be a 5,400-square-foot building with restrooms, a locker room, concession stand and storage space for maintenance equipment.

The board also approved a recommendation of understanding between the school district and After School Discovery for a 2022 summer program to be paid out of Title funds.

“I’m really excited about this summer programing,” Board President William Niemi said.

Superintendent Mark Potts said the district has “some really good summer programing.” The district will be having summer school, as well, he said.

In other business

• The board approved the 2022-23 school calendar, marking Aug. 17 as students’ first day of school, and May 24 as students’ last day of school.

• The board approved a student trip to Japan for June 2023.

• Board Vice President Debra Barrickman reported the district was listed as a “model district” in the recent Title 1 Audit, which monitors student achievement.

• Niemi said the next regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. April 20 at LHS. He noted the board will be meeting in executive session throughout the next month to interview candidates to fill the superintendent position.

The board accepted Potts’ resignation, effective July 31, at the Feb. 16 meeting. Potts was hired Feb. 20, 2018 to serve as interim superintendent, and soon after, was appointed superintendent. He is leaving with three years on his contract.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, former Ohio Senator C.J. Prentiss (D-Cleveland) said, “A lot of us are here [tonight] for the survivors.”
Pentiss referred to the dozen or more people who wore blue or blue ribbons to the meeting in support of child abuse victims.

Her comments centered on allegations against longtime board member Christine Seuffert, who is accused of inappropriate behavior with students 30-plus years ago. Seuffert did not attend the meeting.

The Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the misconduct allegations against Seuffert, a retired AACS teacher. Deputies hope to wrap up the investigation and send their findings to the county prosecutor by March 25.

“We are not going away; you can’t shut us out,” Prentiss said. “The survivors have to have their day and they will have their day.”

The investigation began in November when an anonymous letter was sent to the school board by members of the community regarding the allegations.

Ola Westerfield, who identified herself as the mother of one of Seuffert’s alleged victims, said she wants to know who wrote that letter.

“What was your purpose exposing all these kids,” she said. “Where were you 30 years ago? Are you angry with Chris [Seuffert] and decided to expose these kids? Come forward, tell us what you know.”

Seuffert’s attorney, Christopher Newcomb of Conneaut, then went to the podium.

“Letters were sent to this board directing [Seuffert] to stay away to avoid the distraction,” he said. “But even when she’s not here are you going to call her a distraction?”

Some members of the audience said, “Yes!”

Newcomb charged board member Timothy Fleming of bringing up “executive session material” during a regular meeting.

“If there are any allegations, they should be made in executive session,” Newcomb said. “Any person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty.”

Some members of the audience vocally disagreed with Newcomb. He asked them to let the authorities do their job.

Fleming then accused Newcomb of intimidation.

Newcomb said, “[Seuffert] has no form of protection. I ask the board to use restriction.”




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