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Champion prepares for new school year

CHAMPION — As one of the first districts in Trumbull County to begin the 2022-23 school year this week, the Champion Local Schools Board of Education on Monday hired additional staff, but decided against a masking policy.

The first day of school for students is Wednesday.

“This year we will start out with no masking requirement,”Superintendent John Grabowski said. “Everything will be normal at this point. We are in a much better place than we were in past years.

“We will be cleaning and sanitizing, and there are hand sanitizers all over the buildings. This way, students and staff can make sure their hands are clean,” he said.

The district’s two nurses, Becky Bucco and Sheryl Cozad, were approved for up to 80 additional hours each at $35 per hour to be paid by the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund for additional hours to perform COVID-19 contact tracing and any other related services during the school year.

“During COVID, our nurses have had to work after hours for students who have tested positive and also to do contact tracing and to help families navigate that situation. We add additional hours if they need to do that work,” he said.

The board also added an additional part-time custodian at 18.75 hours to work as needed and help clean and sanitize the school. Officials said the custodian will assist with deep cleaning due to COVID-19.

The board hired Brian Benton as a full-time custodian on a one-year, 260-day contract. He will replace Melissa Harper, who was reassigned.

Grabowski said by starting the school year earlier, the first semester is done before winter break and Christmas. Students return in January to begin the second semester.

“This allows us to get more time and preparation for state testing. Starting earlier does give the students more opportunities to be prepared and ready for state testing. The more days we have with the students, the more opportunity to get them prepared. Every day matters,” Grabowski said indicating state testing is in the spring 2023.

Additional long-term substitutes also were hired with one at each of the three district buildings to fill in for absent staff. They will be paid by ESSER funds. Also, a certified teacher will be hired to serve as a tutor at Central Elementary for two hours each day at $35 per hour, and a certified teacher to provide after-school tutoring for the middle school and high school for up to 10 hours per week at $35 per hour, both paid with ESSER funds.

The board hired Nicole Chirella as a substitute nurse, Lynn Holmes as an interpreter for hearing-impaired students, and Ben Bernstein as a substitute interpreter of hearing-impaired students.

Grabowski said the Freshmen Academy, which is marking its third year, is being held for ninth-grade students to help prepare them for the school year in a new building.

“This helps welcome the freshmen and shows the many opportunities that will be available to them both academically and with extracurricular activities,” he said.

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