PEPPER PIKE, Ohio – The Orange Board of Education seeks to fill a vacancy due to the Nov. 2 election of board member Melanie Weltman to Pepper Pike City Council.
On Monday (Nov. 15), board President Rebecca Boyle congratulated Weltman on her election to the council and noted Weltman will have to resign from the school board on a date to be determined.
“Although I believe (Weltman) will continue to attend our meetings through the Dec. 13 meeting, our hope is within the next week, we will open up applications for people who want to apply for this seat,” Boyle said.
The board is now accepting applications at this email address: BOEapplicant@orangecsd.org.
The district will share more information soon regarding application forms and deadlines, said Lou DeVincentis, the district’s director of communications, in an email.
Weltman was one of three challengers elected to Pepper Pike council Nov. 2. According to unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, she was the second-leading vote-getter behind incumbent Councilman Scott Newell.
Also elected were newcomers Cathy Hwang and Emmy Zatroch, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in the voting. Incumbent Richard Leskovec finished fifth and was defeated.
The county elections board is scheduled to certify the election results on Monday (Nov. 22). Weltman said after her election to council is certified, she will resign from the school board.
Weltman, an Orange High School graduate who grew up in Pepper Pike and still lives there, is the school board’s longest-serving member. She was appointed to the board in 2013 to fill the unexpired term vacated by Tom Bonda, who resigned.
Since then, Weltman has been elected to two four-year terms, most recently in 2019. She served as board president for two years and is currently its vice president.
This will be the second time this year that the school board has had to fill a vacancy due to a resignation. In May, former Orange councilman Scott Bilsky was appointed to the seat vacated by the resignation of Deborah Kamat, who had served on the board since January 2018.
Bilsky then had to run to retain his seat in the Nov. 2 election, since Kamat’s term expires Dec. 31. Bilsky was elected without opposition, as were fellow incumbents Boyle and Jeffrey Leikin.
Boyle noted that unlike Bilsky, who had to run the same year as his appointment, the person appointed to fill this vacancy would be able to serve two years on the board before having to run in November 2023 to retain the seat. That is because Weltman’s term expires Dec. 31, 2023.
“Hopefully by mid-December, after (the Dec. 13 board) meeting, we can get this person sworn in and up to date so we can get them onboarded,” Boyle said.
“I know that when Scott (Bilsky) came on, he kind of hit the ground running. I don’t think I gave Scott as much onboarding as perhaps I should have, but he’s a quick learner.”
Boyle said anyone who applied in the spring for the vacancy created by Kamat’s resignation is welcome to reapply, and they would not have to resubmit their application materials from the first time unless there is something they wish to update.
Weltman said she welcomes anyone who is considering applying for the position to contact her about it.
“For about 8½ years, I’ve had the fantastic opportunity to serve on this board,” she said. “It’s a time commitment, but it’s a worthy purpose.
“You get to work with great people and on issues that really directly affect the children of our community. So please reach out if anybody has any questions.”
According to Ohio law, people serving on Ohio school boards must be at least 18 years old, district residents and registered voters.
Leikin also congratulated Weltman on her election to the council.
“We’ve been together for eight years (on the board), and I’ll miss you,” he said. “It’s always good to have the prior history, and it’s always good to have an opposing view, and we’ve done all that over the eight years.
“I wish you the best of luck, and thank you. It was nice serving with you.”
Weltman said it’s been a pleasure for her to serve on the board and an honor to work with all of the current board members and those she has served with in the past.
“I will miss it, but I won’t be far,” she said. “I will be literally a few miles down the road, and if there’s any history that anybody can’t remember, hopefully I will remember it.”
COVID-19 vaccination clinics
Also on Monday, Campbell said the district has scheduled a COVID-19 booster vaccination clinic for Orange Schools employees for Friday (Nov. 19) on the schools’ campus. He said Rite Aid’s pharmacy will administer the Pfizer vaccine and that the vaccinations will be available to employees only.
Campbell added that Rite Aid will also offer a first-round dose of the vaccine at that time to employees who have not been vaccinated yet.
On Oct. 25, the school board approved a policy requiring all district employees and board-approved volunteers who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to submit to weekly testing for the virus.
The policy applies to employees and volunteers who have not been administered a vaccine that has been fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Campbell said the district is also trying to set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on campus for students ages 5-11. The FDA recently authorized emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children in that age group.
Pharmacies from both Rite Aid and Giant Eagle have expressed an interest in working with the district on such a clinic “and giving the appropriate number of doses,” Campbell said.
But an issue the district is dealing with, Campbell said, is that the vaccine requires two doses, about three weeks apart. With winter break coming in December, “we could find ourselves straddling,” he said.
“Maybe we would get something going in December (before winter break) and then come back the first week we’re back from break, maybe go with dose two that way,” he said.
“But I am working on it with the two different pharmacies on what they can do for us, with enough notice for the parents to be able to schedule with us.”
Campbell said he’s aware that many parents already have scheduled their children in that age group for vaccinations.
“But we’re hopeful that even if there’s a couple hundred (students) that we can help out to host (a vaccination clinic), with the guidance and leadership of those pharmacies, that we can get that up and running and keep communicating as we learn more for our families,” he said.
Students in that age group would be required to have a parent present for the vaccination and a signed consent form from a parent to be eligible, Campbell said.
“We’re just really trying to create a convenient situation for the parents who want to avail themselves of this, like we have for our staff also,” Weltman said.
Campbell agreed that the convenience factor for parents of students being able to be vaccinated on the district’s campus is “huge.”
“If kids already attend Moreland (Hills Elementary School) and (the clinic) is at Moreland, that’s a little bit of a comfort level of where they are,” he said. “And we have the facility size to do it, so that’s helpful, too.”
The board’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. Nov. 29.