An amended lease agreement with the city of Defiance, was discussed by the Defiance City Board of Education during its meeting Wednesday. The board was also given an update about quarantine guidelines for Ohio schools, approved a MOU with its unions concerning Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave, and heard a presentation about Esports.
In addition, the board held its organizational meeting, followed by the regular meeting. During the regular meeting, the members approved a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) agreement and a CRA update, and discussed state capital grant money awarded to the district, (see related story, page A2).
During the regular meeting, superintendent Bob Morton discussed an amended lease agreement with the city of Defiance concerning the 1918 building. Morton shared this amended agreement cleans up some roles and responsibilities in the lease.
“We have talked about the lease and the 1918 building for a long time, and this is from the board’s council, and the city law director, the final step in getting the deed transferred to the city,” said Morton. “There were questions about some responsibilities that needed to be cleaned up, and essentially it says the leasor (the city) is responsible for the property, not the leasee (the school district).
“We will have to partner with the city on some things in that property, because we have people working in the building including our maintenance and custodial staff in the auditorium, Hinkle building, preschool and gymnasium,” added Morton. “Until there is an end user, there will be collaboration between the entities.”
The amended lease agreement was approved by the board.
Morton then gave an update on COVID-19 guideline changes, saying Gov. Mike DeWine changed the quarantine protocols for students who may have been exposed to the virus at school or on a bus, sharing a student or staff member does not have to quarantine as long as that person/persons followed safety protocols (wore a mask and was socially distanced).
The exceptions are if a student or staff member was exposed in the cafeteria, or during athletic or extracurricular activities when not wearing a mask.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Defiance City Education Association (DCEA) and OAPSE 009 workers extending FFCRA leave was also a topic of discussion. The Department of Labor requires certain employers (including school districts) to provide employees with paid sick leave, or expanded family and medical leave, for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
The original FFCRA progam, which expired on Dec. 31, 2020, was extended through March 31. An agreement between the district and its two unions was approved by the board to extend it to June 30.
“We know that COVID is not going to go away by March 31, so we went to work to get an extension before March,” said Morton. “What it does, at no fault of the employee, is protects the employees leave (up to 80 hours if needed). It also allows staff to work from home if they are quarantined, but have the ability to work.
“The extension doesn’t add time, if an employee has already used 80 hours, then that employee can’t get more,” added Morton.
In attendance to discuss Esports, a form of sport competition using video games, were Defiance High School principal Jay Jerger, who presented the board with an outline of Esports, and student Owen Keck.
The two discussed having an Esports club at Defiance, how it works, with Keck explaining the club would like to use the Defiance logo and for the club to compete in Esports Ohio, a league for Esports in the state.
Said Jerger: “Owen is a junior here at the high school, he’s in National Honor Society and is an outstanding student. He approached me last spring and said that a group of students want to start an Esports program. Well, COVID hit and it got put on the backburner.
“Owen approached me again this fall and asked me about it again, so long story short, here is the outline that Owen and Esports teammates presented to me, and I’m seeking board support so we can make this a club sport. So I invited Owen to share more about it and answer any questions.”
Keck explained that currently the club is not competing in Esports Ohio because the club hasn’t been approved by the board, but there are 10 players using their own equipment to play as a team in a game called “Overwatch,” and five more students using their own equipment competing in “Super Smash Brothers.”
“Esports, if you’re not familiar with it, is where athletes/gamers compete in video games in a competitive setting,” said Keck. “People in high school can get scholarship money to compete in Esports in college, and there are professional leagues in which people compete for large sums of money.”
Jerger and Keck explained if the board supported the club, there would be financial considerations in the future, but Morton shared the CAD lab has PCs that could be used for Esports. They also shared a map with the board members showing what schools in Ohio compete, which included Napoleon and Bryan, among others.
Keck answered several questions from the board, before thanking them for letting him present Esports to them.
The board approved membership/participation of Defiance High School in the Esports Ohio Program for the remainder of 2021.