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Bruce Otley - Superintendent

Mr. Otley became Superintendent of Liberty-Benton Local Schools August 1, 2023.  He holds a bachelors of Science in Education from Bowling Green State University and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Dayton.  Over his 28-year career in education, Mr. Otley has served in many roles including teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal, and principal.  At Liberty-Benton, Mr. Otley served as Middle School Principal from 2006-2019 and Director of Operations from 2019-2023.   As Director of Operations, he provided project oversight for many district improvement projects including our athletic facilities as well as oversight for the construction of our new elementary and middle school.  Mr. Otley has lived in the Liberty-Benton school district with his wife Tricia since 2005.  His three children Hannah, Emma, and Trevor, are all Liberty-Benton graduates.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

District News

From the desk of Mr. Otley

May Update

Back in 1986 the rock band Europe released their hit song “The Final Countdown”, which is a fitting way to look at the month of May in public schools.  For our seniors, May is a time for reflection regarding the many things they’ve accomplished during their years at LB, as well as a time of looking forward to graduation, summer vacation, and the next chapter in life.

During our Portrait of an Eagle Project, we identified critical thinkers as an essential skillset all students should possess by the time they graduate from LB.  We defined this as:

Critical Thinkers

  • We are able to analyze information, make informed decisions, and sort information to discern truth.
  • We can evaluate evidence, consider different perspectives, and solve problems.  

The world our graduates must be prepared for, is a world that has become more difficult to sift through mainstream media spin, and web-based resources to arrive at truth.  Analyzing information, evaluating evidence, and considering different perspectives, to discern truth is an essential skill for success in life.  

As we look at closing out another school year, It has been a blessing to serve you alongside of our amazing LB teaching staff. I’m looking forward to seeing you at these remaining school events.

May 8   District Wide Arts Festival 6-8 pm

May 14  High School Spring Band/Choir Concert 7:30 pm

May 20  High School Senior Awards Night 7 pm

May 21  Middle School Spring Band/Choir Concert 6:30 pm

May 22 Last Day for Graduating Seniors

May 30  Last Day of School 2 Hour Early Dismissal

June 2   High School Graduation 2 pm

 

Fly Higher!
Bruce Otley
Superintendent

 

 

 

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From the desk of Mr. Otley

April Message

The trees are budding with new leaves, the grass has begun to grow, and the tulips and crocuses are
blooming. Spring has sprung, and we are officially in the fourth quarter of the 2023-2024 school year!
When I was a football coach, often times our players would raise their hands in the air with their thumb
bent to make the number 4, as a reminder to persevere, execute the game plan, implement the half
time adjustments, and finish the game strong. With three quarters of school in the rear view, we need
to commit to a strong finish.

In February and March, a committee of students, parents, teachers, board member, and administrators
met with our consultant with The Impact Group for our Portrait of an Eagle project, which is in support
of our Strategic Plan. Our work was to identify and define the character traits we feel every student
should possess by the time they graduate from Liberty-Benton. These character traits help define our
culture, and will be a k-12 point of focus as we nurture, grow, and educate our students. I’ll be sharing
the end result of our “Portrait of an Eagle” project in its entirety with everyone soon, but since we’re
officially in the fourth quarter, I thought I’d share a sneak peak of one of the character traits our
committee felt every eagle should possess before graduating.

Resilience: We are motivated to persevere through challenges with grit and determination.  We are
willing to embrace and overcome setbacks as a necessary step toward growth.  We know that hard work
creates opportunities to adapt, grow and be successful in our changing world.  

I love that our group identified resilience as a point of focus, and used terms like “grit”, “hard work”. and
“determination” as the remedy to overcome setbacks to achieve growth. I love watching our students
pursue excellence by overcoming challenges in the classroom, through musical and theatrical
performances and the arts, on the court, mat, course, and field of athletics. As we enter the fourth
quarter, be resilient and finish the year strong!

Fly Higher!

Bruce Otley
Superintendent
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From the desk of Mr. Otley

March Madness

March is music in our schools Month, and our students are poised for another successful high school
musical, The Sound of Music, in our beautiful new performing arts center. Opening night will be Friday,
March 1, at 7:30 p.m. Encore performances will be held Saturday March 2, and Sunday March 3, at 2:00
p.m.

We will again be showcasing the talent of our middle and high school vocal music programs at the Music
in Our Schools (MIOSM) concert on Tuesday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. and our high school band will be
performing on Thursday March 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the performing arts center. Our second graders will
also be performing on Tuesday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m.

March is also the month for high school basketball tournaments, and the beginning of our track,
baseball, and softball seasons. Good luck to all of our athletes!

The demolition of our old prek-8 building is well under way and we would like anyone who would like a
keepsake from our beloved old building to have one. Bricks from the original 1921 building can now be
obtained in the front parking lot of the original elementary school.  There will be plenty of bricks, and
our demolition company will continue to make bricks available to our pubic as long as there is a demand
for them so please feel free to preserve a piece of our district’s heritage and “pick a brick”.

Friendly reminder we will be off for Spring Break Friday March 29-Monday April 1.

Bruce A. Otley
Superintendent
Liberty-Benton Local Schools
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From the desk of Mr Otley

February Message

When it is February in Ohio, it can seem like winter will never end.  Fortunately for us, for the first time in two years, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow so hopefully we will have an early spring.  In the meantime, there’s been lots of exciting things happening at school. For example:

The demolition process of our old prek-8 building has begun.  All of the portable classrooms have been removed.  A portion of the far west side of the 1959 has also been partially removed.   As we say goodbye to our old building, we have thoughtfully preserved our proud heritage in a number of ways.

  1. A portion of the 1959 gymnasium floor has been preserved and proudly displayed in our high school gymnasium.
  2. The original dedication plaque to the 1921 and 1976 buildings have been preserved.  The 1921 plaque is mounted next to the new prek-8 dedication plaque.  
  3. The program for the new building dedication that contained a comprehensive summary of our district has been preserved in the new time capsule located behind the prek-8 dedication plaque.
  4. The original badging “Liberty TWP Centralized School 1921" has been carefully removed to be incorporated somewhere into our new campus.
Bricks from our beloved old school will be available for Liberty-Benton families after February 12, 2024.  The bricks will be located in the front parking lot of the 1921 building on Route 12.  

February 5-9, is Counselor Appreciation week.  We are thankful for the care and support our team of counselors provides to our students and staff.  Thank you, Mrs. Gazette, Mrs. Pickett, Mrs. Herr, and Mrs. Rath, for all you do for our students, parents, and teaching staff.

February 15th is also Student Resource Officer Appreciation Day.  Deputy Brandon Kendrick has served as our SRO since the 20-21 school year.   Thank you Deputy Kendrick for your service to the district.

Keep your eyes peeled for the 2022-2023 Liberty-Benton Quality Profile.  The Quality Profile captures the achievements and highlights from the previous school year. These should hit mailboxes later on this month.   The winter newsletter should reach mailboxes in early March.

Friendly reminder that we have used four of our five calamity days for the school year. After our fifth calamity day, we will switch to remote learning.

Fly Higher!
 
Bruce Otley
Superintendent
 
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From the desk of Mr. Otley

New Year’s Greetings

The new year is a time for reflecting on the accomplishments of 2023, and is also a time of great excitement for what 2024 will bring. The 2023-2024 school year has certainly been special.  As a community we celebrated the opening of our new prek-8, and we will soon be saying goodbye to our old facilities on State Route 12.  To preserve the heritage of our old campus for future generations of eagles, several measures have been taken.  

  • The letters from the old gymnasium floor spelling out Liberty-Benton have been framed and will be displayed in the high school gym
  • The original bronze commemoration plaque from the 1921 building will be mounted on the wall next to the commemoration plaque on the auditorium all for the new prek-8
  • The stone badging on top of the 1921 building “1921 Liberty TWP Centralized School” will be preserved and incorporated somewhere on our new campus
  • Bricks from the old 1921 building will be preserved and made available to our public
I am proud of the accomplishments of our students, staff, performing arts programs, and athletic teams and can’t wait to see what future accomplishments we will achieve together in 2024!  

Happy New Year!  

Bruce Otley
Superintendent
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From the desk of Mr Otley

Holiday Greetings

The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year.  It is a time for family and friends to gather together, to slow down, and to enjoy each other’s company.  For me, it brings back childhood memories of sipping hot chocolate, indulging in fresh baked homemade cookies, decorating the tree, and the excitement and anticipation of opening gifts with family and loved ones.

During this holiday season, our students have gotten into the giving spirit though hosting a canned food drive and a Coats for Christmas drive to provide food and warm winter coats, hats, and gloves to the needy in our local community.

We are blessed to host our first holiday concerts in our new auditorium, and to be enjoying the benefits of new and updated facilities.  Our wrestling team has moved into their new facility located in our field house, and we are off to another exciting basketball, wrestling, and bowling season.

As we approach Christmas break, I’d like to encourage everyone to slow down, spend quality time with loved ones, bake (and eat—you can work them off after the new year begins) the cookies, make the memories, and count your blessings.

I’d like to wish all of you a wonderful, restful Christmas break!  
 
Bruce Otley
Superintendent
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From the desk of Mr Otley

Thanksgiving Gratitude

Fall is my favorite season and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  It is a time to pause and reflect with gratitude on the many things we should be thankful for.  I am personally thankful for our caring and supportive teachers, students, parents, and community.   It has been said that happiness is achieved, when you focus on wanting the things you have, not the things you want.   As a community, we have so much to be thankful for.  Here are just a few examples:
  • Between November 1-3, LB teachers hosted 952 parent teacher conferences k-12
  • November 6, the high school inducted 74 new National Honor Society members and the middle school inducted 51 new members to the National Junio Honor Society
  • Our fall sports teams collected six conference championships, with our boys cross-country team qualifying and placing 15th at state
November is also a time to express gratitude in remembering and honoring our veterans of the armed forces.  There are approximately 23.6 million veterans in the United States with 1.8 million being women.  About 1.1 million veterans have died in battle since the beginning of our country, and remind us that precious freedom is not free.  At Liberty-Benton we honored are local veterans with a Veteran’s Day breakfast and assembly on November 10, 2023 and with   our patriotic Field of Flags display along State Route 12.  
 
With thanks,
 
Bruce Otley 
Superintendent 
 
 
 
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From the desk of Mr. Otley

Flying Higher into Fall

I would like to thank our teachers, students, and parents for an excellent start to the 2023-2024 school year!   The days are growing shorter, the evenings are cooler, the leaves are changing and it is beginning to feel like fall.   As I've made my rounds through the district, I've been inspired by the great things going in classrooms, on the playground, and in the hallways--and have had fun jumping right in there with some of our students and teachers singing, laughing, and learning!  
 
On October 9, Liberty-Benton hosted a county wide professional development day for the Hancock County schools.  About 600 educators from Hancock County selected from 31 different presentations that took place in our prek-8 and high school.  A wide range of research based best practices and hot topics were offered including social and emotional learning, brain based learning strategies, dealing with challenging student behaviors, artificial intelligence, autism supports, community and mental health resources, and job readiness and employability skills.  Our teachers will be putting into practice the skills acquired with our students.     
 
As we approach the end of the first grading period, I can enthusiastically say that we have much to be proud of!  As partners in education, I encourage parents to schedule for parent/teacher conferences November 1-2, from 5-8 p.m. and November 3, from 8:00 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.  
 
Fly Higher!
 
Bruce Otley
Superintendent
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Purple Star

Supporting Those Who Serve: Liberty-Benton Elementary and Middle School Receive Purple Star Designation

Liberty-Benton Elementary and Middle School have been honored as Ohio Department of Education Purple Star Schools for the 2023-2024 for their outstanding contributions to students and families in the armed service.  They join Liberty-Benton High School who already earned Purple Star honors.  Elementary Principal Brian Burkett and Middle School Principal Kyle Leatherman will be recognized by the Ohio School Board Association at the Northwest Regional Fall Conference in Fostoria, Ohio on October 26 for this honor.  Both schools can proudly display the Purple Star logo on their respective websites.
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From the desk of Mr Otley

Liberty-Benton Receives High Marks on the State Report Card

Liberty-Benton had another excellent performance on the district report card, earning 4.5 out of five stars overall.  The star rating system is relatively new, but only tells a portion of our story.  Digging deeper, Liberty-Benton leads all schools in Hancock County academically and is ranked in the top 15% of all school districts in the state of Ohio (88 out of 607 districts) in the overall grade card points rating.  LB outperformed all other county schools on total grade card performance points.  Worth noting, the district had 5-star ratings in Achievement, Gap Closing, Early Literacy, and Graduation.  The district earned 3 stars in Progress, which means the district met, but didn’t exceed expected levels of growth.  Since Liberty-Benton is perennially high performing, it is statistically improbable to exceed expected levels of growth year after year in value added components of the grade card. Phrased another way, a rating of 5 in the Progress category is a place high performing districts visit but can’t indefinitely stay. Overall, LB continues to excel academically.

Our building principals are hard at work interpreting each building’s results, and are developing plans to support our students for another successful measurement in the spring.  

I’d like to congratulate our teachers, principals, and support staff on a job well done!! I’d also like to thank our parents as our partners in education.  Results like this are the culmination of a team effort!  


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From the desk of Mr Otley

New Facilities Bring Excitement to 2023-2024 School Year

Welcome to the 2023-2024 school year Eagle family! I am honored to have been selected as the district’s next superintendent. 


The Liberty-Benton community has been home to my family and me since 2005. I am entering my 29th year in education, having served as principal at Liberty-Benton Middle School from 2006-2019, and from 2019-2023, as Director of Operations. I have also coached several youth sports teams within the community. My wife, Tricia, and I have three grown children, Hannah, Emma, and Trevor, who are all LB Alumni.. 


As Director of Operations, I had the privilege of providing project oversight for the construction of our new PreK-8 building, high school renovations, and improvements to our athletic facilities. I look forward to seeing how these campus improvements will impact our educational and extra-curricular experiences now and for future generations of Eagles!  I invite you to join us for our New School Grand Opening Celebration on Aug. 28 from 4-8 p.m. Attendees will enjoy food trucks, inflatables, train rides, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and building walk-throughs.    


I hope everyone enjoys their final days of summer break. We’ll see you Sept. 5 for the first day of school!  


Go Eagles!


Bruce Otley

Superintendent

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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

High School Renovation Means Change to Last Day of School

High School Renovation Means Change to Last Day of School

 

With the passage of the bond issue in May of 2019, a renovation of the high school was recommended and co-funded by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. This renovation of our high school is scheduled to take place this summer and be completed in time for the start of the 2022-2023 school year. In order for this project to stay on track, a change to the last day of school for our high school students is being made due to the scope of work.

 

Originally planned for June 2, the last day of in-person learning for our high school students is now May 20. Students will transition to remote learning from May 23 - June 2 to finish out the school year. Alternative plans for graduation are also being made and will be communicated later. Graduation will still occur on June 5.

 

Elementary and middle school students will not be affected. Their last day of school remains June 2. 

 

If you have a high school student, please mark your calendar accordingly and thank you for your patience and understanding. We cannot wait to see how this improved learning environment will further our students’ educational experience.  

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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

April Message

L-B Soars with Double Purple Star Award Win
  
The end of the school year is typically when we bestow accolades and other honors on our students. This year, Liberty-Benton Elementary and Middle Schools are also being recognized. On April 17, the Ohio Department of Education presented our district with not one, but two Purple Star Awards, an honor all three of our schools now hold. 
 
The distinction is given to schools that show a significant commitment to serving students and families connected to our nation’s armed forces. All awardees meet a set of criteria aimed at meeting the unique wellness and academic needs of Ohio’s military-connected youth. The schools will hold the designation for three years, at which time we may reapply. 
 
Part of what earned L-B this award is our community. Your input and feedback on what you want to see in our schools is invaluable. That is one of the reasons we conduct the Leader in Me survey each year, and now is the time! The information collected helps our schools plan our district-wide Leader in Me curriculum for the following year. Parents, I encourage you to take a few minutes to let us know your thoughts. The survey will be coming from your building principal (if it has not already). The middle school survey recently closed, but parents of elementary students have from April 19-28 to complete this survey, and high school parents will have from April 29-May 7. 
 
As a reminder, state testing is underway for many of our grade levels. Please make sure your child gets enough sleep and has a healthy breakfast leading up to these days so they can be successful on the tests they have worked hard to prepare for all year. 
 
This is the busiest time of year for our students and families, so check out our calendar to make sure you do not miss out! As always … GO EAGLES!
 
 
Mark Kowalski
Superintendent
 
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LB News Release

NEWS RELEASE

NEWS RELEASE
 
March 30, 2023                                                    
Mark Kowalski, Superintendent
 
Community Feedback Leads to Enhanced Safety Measures 
at Liberty-Benton’s New PK-8 Building 
 
Liberty-Benton Local Schools' all-new PK-8 building is set to open at the start of the 2023-2024 school year and showcases the district’s commitment to academics, arts, athletics as well as safety and security. The facility was thoughtfully designed with input from students, staff, and community members through the required Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s Educational Visioning process and SHP, the project’s architect, to prioritize student learning in a 21st century designed building. 
 
In addition to traditional safety measures, such as cameras, door-locking systems, and cutting-edge technology that all were included in the original scope and design, the district has been investigating additional safety enhancements throughout the project. 
 
The Board of Education’s March 29 meeting resulted in a plan to implement additional safety measures in response to community feedback and the district collaboration team’s recommendations. 
 
“We appreciate members of the community coming forward with their concerns and we thank the members of our collaboration team for their time and unwavering efforts,” said Superintendent Mark Kowalski. “It takes a village to protect and educate students in today’s world, and we are grateful for our community’s involvement and continued support.”
 
The state-of-the-art facility features an 800-seat performing arts space, two gymnasiums, a 375-seat commons area, as well as state of the art learning spaces and technology to enhance student learning. The building is being paid for with a combination of dollars from the state-funded Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and a bond issue passed by residents in May of 2019.
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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Liberty-Benton Soaring Into 2023

Our staff and students are off and running in 2023. There is no doubt in my mind this will be another exciting year for our Eagle community. I am hopeful for a year of progress and continued growth in the areas of academics, arts, and athletics.  In addition, we will usher in additional facility upgrades.  Most notably, the opening of our new PK-8 facility.  
 
As a reminder, the end of the first semester is January 27. Our staff and students have continued working hard this school year to close the learning gap that widened because of the pandemic. We hope you will see this hard work reflected in your student’s grades and state achievement test scores. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher(s). 
 
We are now well into the winter sports season. I encourage you to catch a game or match and stay tuned to social media for other upcoming events so you can show your support for our students no matter what their endeavors. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday break and that 2023 is shaping up to be a great one for you and your loved ones. And as always … GO EAGLES!
 
Mark Kowalski
Superintendent
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From the Desk of Mr. Kowalski

Liberty-Benton Ranks High in the State

What a great time to be an Eagle! Most recently, we were awarded 24 of 25 stars on Ohio’s School Report Cards, which give parents/guardians, community members, educators and policymakers’ information about how districts are performing. Schools are graded on Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation, and Early Literacy. 
 
Additionally, Liberty-Benton received a grade of A- from Niche, which is designed to help connect students and families with the schools and neighborhoods that suit them best. Niche considers academics, teachers, clubs and activities, sports, resources and facilities, diversity, college prep, administration, and even food when issuing grades. Some of our highlights include:
  • #57 of 608 for best school districts for athletes in Ohio
  • #58 of 607 for districts with the best teachers in Ohio
  • #87 of 607 for best school districts in Ohio
 
Coming up at the end of this month is third grade reading guarantee testing. As a district, we will administer our own assessments to help tailor instruction for the remainder of the school year.
 
As we progress further into this school year, we will maintain our focus on academics, athletics and the arts so our students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in life beyond Liberty-Benton. 
 
Thank you and congratulations to our staff, students and the community on making Liberty-Benton one of the premier learning destinations. As always… GO EAGLES!
 
Mark Kowalski
Superintendent
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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Liberty-Benton Celebrates High Marks on State Report Card

It is hard to believe, but we are nearly a month into the new school year already. We have had a great start to the year, including some celebratory moments. 
 
Ohio’s School Report Cards were released on September 15 and Liberty-Benton ranked 13th in the state out of 607 districts. This was the first time in two years that report cards were issued because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Replacing the traditional letter grade scoring system is a five-star rating, with one being the lowest and five being the highest. We were one of only three districts in Northwest Ohio that received 24 of 25 stars. Only 32 districts in the entire state received a four or five star rating.
 
Districts were scored on the following: Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation and Early Literacy. College, Career, Workforce and Military Readiness is a new category, but districts will not be scored in this category until future years. The report card is only one measure of success for Ohio’s schools, but we are so proud of this accomplishment! Thank you to our staff and students for all of your hard work, and to our community for your continued support. 
 
Our high school students are already realizing the impact of a more modern learning environment thanks to our high school renovations that took place this past summer.  Again, this was made possible by our generous community support of our Bond Issue in May 2019.  I can’t wait for this project to be completed with the grand opening of our new K-8 in August of 2023.
 
Lastly, fall is finally here. I hope everyone enjoys the cooler temperatures and the brilliant fall colors, and don’t forget to support our student-athletes or performing arts students at an upcoming event. And as always … GO EAGLES!
 
Mark Kowalski
Superintendent
 
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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Spring has sprung at Liberty-Benton

Liberty-Benton is in full spring mode and is barreling toward the end of the school year. This month brings the chorale festival, our spring sports kickoff, and the annual honors recognition. In addition, on March 31, Liberty-Benton Elementary M.O.R.E. gifted program students will present the musical Pirates 2: The Hidden Treasure. Tickets are now available for purchase.  

State assessment season is around the corner for our students.  Some assessments occur this month while the bulk take place in April and the first week of May.  Though these can be stressful for our students and staff, it serves as a good representation of how our students are progressing in their academics and potential for success.

I want to remind our high school students and families to mark their calendars. In-person learning will end May 20 and students will transition to remote learning on May 23-June 2. This will allow our construction crew to get to work renovating our high school so that we are ready to open the doors in September for the start of the new school year. Speaking of next school year, the 2022-2023 calendar has been approved and is available on our website at www.liberty-benton.org.

Big changes are also coming for our fifth graders next year. When the new PK-8 building opens for the 2023-2024 school year, the fifth grade will shift to the middle school. To help students and staff prepare for this transition, fifth graders will attend the current middle school next school year. If your child is entering fifth grade next year, more information will be shared as plans are finalized.

We cannot wait to celebrate the grand opening of our long-awaited Eagle Field House on April 2. The 28,000-square-foot facility will enhance Liberty-Benton’s athletic program for years to come. The Eagle Field House will directly benefit our baseball and softball, soccer, football, track and field, golf, and band and cheer programs, and indirectly benefit all other sports.

I hope you are able to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather in the coming weeks. Until we talk again, as always … GO EAGLES!

With Gratitude,
Mark Kowalski


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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Wrapping Up Winter with Planning for Next Year

Wrapping Up Winter with Planning for Next Year
 
Spring is just around the corner. Well, I hope so anyway, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow this year, meaning we may be in for another six weeks of winter. If Mother Nature does bring any more calamity days our way, they will be remote learning days. This will help us end the school year on time, which is more important than ever so we can stay on track with our construction projects. 
 
Speaking of which, I would like to remind our high school students and families that in-person learning will end May 20 this year. Students will transition to remote learning May 23-June 2. We are on a very tight timeline with the renovation of our high school and this will give our construction crew a head start so that our building is ready to open at the beginning of next school year. Rest assured, we will honor all of our usual end-of-year activities, and please mark your calendar for our graduation ceremony, which will be held Sunday, June 5. The location will be announced soon.     
 
In other news, we learned from Hancock Public Health that the omicron variant has subsided in our community. As such, quarantine guidelines have been updated and can be found on our website.  We are approaching two years of dealing with COVID-19.  I know that most of us are experiencing “fatigue” over the virus and its variants. Let us be mindful and respectful of others as we continue to deal with concerns related to COVID-19.
 
Whether or not spring does make its arrival soon, plans are well underway for the 2022-2023 academic year. On Feb. 1, open enrollment and kindergarten registration opened. Open enrollees are accepted on a first-come first-served basis, so if you are a current open enrollment student and plan to come back next year, we encourage you to return your intent form as soon as possible. Please contact Susan Wright or me at [email protected] or 419-422-8526 with any questions. The open enrollment and kindergarten registration forms are available on our website at liberty-benton.org. We cannot wait to meet our class of 2035!
 
As always … GO EAGLES!
 
With Gratitude,
Mark Kowalski
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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Liberty-Benton Starting 2022 in High Gear

Welcome to 2022! The end of the first semester is January 28, and it is full steam ahead for our staff and students as we head into the second half of this school year.
As you are all aware, we are still dealing with the consequences of COVID-19. Thank you for your continued patience and flexibility as we work through this latest surge in cases and Omicron variant. Currently, mask wearing is optional but is highly encouraged particularly for those who are unvaccinated.

We invite you to attend one of our many performing arts or athletic events this winter. Our high school students are excited to present the musical The Drowsy Chaperone February 25-27. Additionally, our winter sports seasons are underway. A full schedule of events can be found on our website (www.liberty-benton.org) under Athletics.

We are continuing to make progress on our construction projects, and are fortunate that the weather has cooperated thus far this winter. I cannot express how excited I am for these facilities to be complete and for our students to begin taking advantage of all that they have to offer.  

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2022, and more importantly, as always … GO EAGLES!

With Gratitude,
Mark Kowalski




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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

In case you cannot tell by the title of this message, the Christmas season is my favorite. There is just something about the bright lights and decorations, the fresh smell of pine, Christmas music, and of course the cookies!

The season is also a reminder that we are nearing the end of 2021. I am proud of all that our Liberty-Benton school community has accomplished in the first part of this school year and I am looking forward to collaborating with all of you to continue this great work in 2022. Not to mention, January of 2022 means we are one-step closer to opening the doors of our new PK-8 building in September of 2023.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a restful break filled with many new memories.

With Gratitude,
Mark Kowalski


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Food Service Update

Food Service Update

As your school’s food service provider, our goal has always been to provide high-quality, nutritious, healthy, and well-balanced
meals to your child.
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Brand Guidelines Document

Liberty-Benton Brand Guidelines

With our recent groundbreaking ceremony to improve our district’s facilities, Liberty-Benton Local Schools will be undergoing significant change during the next couple of years. Designing new school facilities comes with hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions about the look and feel of the buildings. Our administration saw this as an opportunity to evaluate the existing Liberty-Benton brand, make upgrades to the brand in order to unify our “look” and create brand guidelines to inform the many building-related decisions to come. Our hope is that going through this branding process will allow for a smooth and successful transition into our new facilities.


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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Preparing for Another School Year

It’s hard to believe, but August is already here, and we are quickly gearing up for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. I hope everyone has had a relaxing and enjoyable summer and is ready to dive back into learning. I know our staff is excited to return to the classroom for what we hope will be a more normal year.
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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Thank You

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of gratitude is “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.” There is no better way to describe how I am feeling as the 2020-2021 school year ends.

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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

An almost normal year-end!

Despite getting another blast of winter April 21, those who are part of the Liberty-Benton family have effectively shaken off the winter blues. The excitement on our campuses is substantial as we return to at least a semi-normal spring.

Liberty-Benton is a busy place these days. From spring sports (complete with spectators - finally!), to student recognition assemblies and the annual Arts Festival, I think we’ve all learned over the last year to never take these rituals for granted. Planning is also well underway for other end of the year activities such as field day, prom and graduation.
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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Follow-up to March 30, 2021 Message Regarding Harassment and Bullying

In follow-up to my message on March 30, 2021, regarding harassment and bullying in our schools at Liberty-Benton, there continues to be misinformation circulating in the community about a matter that has been under internal investigation for the last few weeks involving reports and allegations of student misconduct, including sexual harassment, in our District.  

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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

We take harassment and bullying seriously

At times, there are issues and actions that impact our students. When these happen within our schools, it is our responsibility to fully and independently conduct an investigation.

We take this role very seriously. We have school board policies that adhere to laws and at times, our work leads us to even involve the advice and guidance of legal counsel.

Ensuring the rights of any involved is essential. So, too, is it essential that we protect the integrity of any investigation and subsequent details of proceedings and the discipline of anyone in our schools, regardless of whether they are a student or staff member.

It has been brought to our attention that at times there is online chatter regarding a specific situation. Please know that the protections we can afford to those involved are limited but that it is up to each of us to ensure that we are responsible digital citizens and that we are aware of the impact postings have on others.

As for our schools, we take harassment, bullying and any other behavior that does not comply with our expected student or staff behavior seriously.

Should you be aware of any such misconduct, please report to https://www.publicschoolworks.com/SHL/bullyingMgr.asp?di=1348&dia=n3cvy

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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Marking the One-Year Anniversary of Remote Learning

Anniversaries are typically fun and joyous occasions. As we mark the one-year anniversary of going to remote learning (March 13, 2020, marked our last day with students, and March 17, 2020, marked our first day of remote learning), joy may not be the exact emotion you use to describe the last year. Challenging, maybe.

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Online Free and Reduced Application

PaySchools Central Online Applications

Liberty-Benton Local Schools introduces ONLINE FREE AND REDUCED APPLICATION on PaySchools Central!
Simply visit www.payschoolscentral.com and click Register, or download the mobile app PaySchools Mobile.
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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Spring Offers Hope and Slow Return to Normal

Spring is just around the corner. With it comes a sense of hope and excitement for new things, and this is certainly the case for Liberty-Benton Local Schools.

Our staff will receive their first COVID vaccine on Saturday, February 27. This comes after weeks of declining positive cases and quarantining across our school community. After winter weather further disrupted our learning throughout February, our students finally got a full 5-day week in the buildings this past week. These factors are combining to make things feel more normal again. I am so grateful for how this district has come together over the last year to keep one another safe and support our students’ emotional and educational growth.
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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

All-In Update

Liberty Benton Local Schools is in the process of preparing to bring all students back to school on Monday, February 1. This is great news! 

Having students in school full time has always been a priority for our school district. At the same time, it is important that our students and staff are safe. Throughout the school year, we have added safety measures in our buildings to prevent the spread of COVID 19. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation in this effort. The more we practice safety protocols like hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing and staying home when sick, the more opportunities we have to remain in school. Let’s keep up the good work.
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From the desk of Mr. Kowalski

It Takes a Village

This has been a school year like no other.  Despite the ever-changing needs of our students and the mounting obstacles before us, we have persevered.  Thank you for moving forward with determination, grace and creativity in order to make the best of this year.

In order to provide our students with the school environment they deserve, I feel like all of our staff have risen to the challenge of each new obstacle with flexibility and innovation.  

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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Educational Plan

Since last March, I have done my best to keep you informed about how COVID-19 is affecting our students, staff and operations in the Liberty-Benton Local School District.
 
Unfortunately, the district has recently endured a spike in student and staff COVID-19 confirmed cases and quarantines. Because of the illness and quarantines, the district has become stressed in all of our school buildings and departments. Ultimately, we have a duty to provide education and extra-curricular opportunities to our school community but to do it as safely as possible.  Now this has become jeopardized. As a school district, we are not alone in this. The entire state of Ohio and Hancock County are experiencing the same stress.
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From the desk of Mr. Kowalski

Looking Ahead

Since the start of the 2020-2021 school year, we have been fortunate enough to welcome our in-person learners back into our school buildings and provide quality education to students both virtually at home and in the classroom.

Due to the adherence to safety protocols in the schools and the support of our community working hard to keep COVID cases to a minimum, we are on track to return to school “all-in”. If Hancock County remains either yellow or orange on Ohio’s COVID Alert System, our students will return to school full-time, all day, every day beginning Monday, November 9.  
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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

COVID-19 Update

A Liberty-Benton Elementary School student and staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently under quarantine. The Hancock Public Health Department, in collaboration with the school, will complete contact tracing to identify other students or staff members who may need to quarantine for 14 days. Only those who have been in Close Contact with the student or staff member will be contacted. Close Contact is defined as someone who has been within 6 feet of an individual for more than 15 minutes.
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Eagle Update

Eagle Update







Traffic Flow Maps
With the start of school just around the corner, we wanted to share the new traffic flow maps to ensure a safe drop-off and pick-up of students!
MS-HS Pickup

ES Pickup

Home Football Game Parking and Dismissal Guidance


Report tips on bullying, harassment, drugs, weapons, 
thoughts of suicide, or any other concern.


LBHS Alumni Veterans/Active Duty Military and Family Member Veterans of current students
The Liberty-Benton High School Action Team "Support Our Soldiers" is looking to collect names of currently living veterans of the military or those who are actively serving in the military.

Restraint and Seclusion, Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) in Ohio Schools.
What Parents Need to Know




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School Bus Safety with Deputy Kendrick

School Bus Safety with Deputy Kendrick

Greetings Liberty-Benton Students, Staff, Parents and community from Deputy Kendrick, your School Resource Officer.  Your full time SRO is excited to be working with the students and staff every school day and to serve the Liberty-Benton community 

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Student eat for free

Students Eat for Free

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would extend several flexibilities for school meals throughout the remainder of 2020. “As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food,” the USDA said.

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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

The wait is over!

The wait is over! The doors to our school buildings are open and teachers and staff have welcomed our students back to school for another great year here at Liberty-Benton.

For our in-person learners, this is the first time back in the school buildings for nearly six months. Moreover, while this year will look and feel very different from past years, we are excited to have the opportunity to begin our school year with our students - whether they are at home or in the classroom.
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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Financial Forecasting in Uncertain Times

The Liberty-Benton School District has a long record of responsible, thoughtful stewardship of taxpayer funds and maintaining a sound budget while sending dollars to the classroom for students. While our recent five-year financial forecast reflects these priorities, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has interjected a number of unknowns for our future.  More +
Fee Update

Fee Update

The Liberty-Benton Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution at the May 27, 2020 board meeting to provide all district families with a 25% fee reimbursement for the 2019-20 school year.  More +
From the desk of Mr Kowalski

That's a Wrap!!!

With the 2019-20 school year behind us, I want to thank everyone for your support of Liberty-Benton Schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. I know it is difficult to believe, but we had almost seven months of school that took place before our school buildings were directed to close because of the pandemic so I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of some accomplishments and milestones we celebrated this year.

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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Coping with Uncertainty and Finding Hope

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way we approach learning across the country and throughout the world. Students and families are not only coping with the upheaval of school, work and possibly their health or finances, they are also missing out on experiences  More +
A Guide To Remote Learning

A Guide To Remote Learning

Stay healthy! Get a good night’s sleep, eat healthy and drink water
Connect with your teacher(s) and complete your assignments
Spend time reading
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Daily Update

Daily Video Updates

Summer Survey
 
 
 
Parade Route Videos - Benton Ridge - Western Meadows
 
 
Counseling Services - [email protected] 
Smile Parade - Monday, April 20th, 2:00pm - Video
Food Decorating Contest Winners 
Technology Support - [email protected]
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Closure Update

Supporting Our Community during COVID-19

Today, Liberty-Benton and school districts across the country are grappling with closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

As a community, it is vital that we take care of each other during this challenging time by following state and local directives, and by taking personal and collective steps to limit the impact of this virus. 
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From the desk of Mr. Kowalski

IMPORTANT COMMUNICATION

March 13, 2020

IMPORTANT COMMUNICATION from Mark Kowalski, Superintendent

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From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Preparing Students for Success beyond Testing

With spring right around the corner, our schools are getting ready for annual spring milestones - awards banquets, field trips, graduation and state testing. At Liberty-Benton, test preparation and life skills go hand-in-hand throughout the school year and culminate in the spring with state-required testing.  More +
Mr Kowalsko

Building the Future

The New Year is underway, and so are the plans for the new construction at Liberty-Benton Local Schools!  More +
Less Millage

Liberty-Benton School District Bond To Collect Less Millage, Decreases Impact On Taxpayers

The millage amount approved by voters in May 2019 for the Liberty-Benton Local School District bond issue has been reduced from a 5.5-mill true tax impact to a 4.35-mill true tax impact.  More +
Mark Kowalski

Reflecting on the past, looking to the future

Another year is drawing to a close at Liberty-Benton Local Schools, and as we continue planning for the future, we find ourselves reflecting on the events of 2019 and the past decade.
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Mr Kowalski

Thank You!

Issue 1, the renewal operating levy put forth on the November 5th ballot, has passed, and we are grateful to all of you who helped support it. The levy will continue More +
From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Continue Excellence on November 5th

The state of the school is something you often hear public school leadership talk about - the condition of the facilities, the initiatives implemented in the classroom, More +
25th Anniversary Celebration

25th Anniversary Celebration

We are excited to invite you to attend the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Liberty-Benton High School on Friday, November 1, 2019, at 5:30 p.m.  This special More +
State of the Schools address

State of the Schools Address

Here is a copy of the superintendent's State of the School presentation from October 8, 2019. More +
Mark Kowalski Superintendent

The State of Our Schools

The state of the school is something you often hear public school leadership talk about - the condition of the facilities, the initiatives implemented in the classroom, the budget decisions that must be addressed, and the past, present and future of the district.  More +
From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Critical Thinking in the New School Year

Welcome back, Eagles! It is finally time to welcome our students back into our schools’ doors and into our classrooms where we will embark on new adventures. This year students will become scientists, historians, inventors, artists and authors - the options are limitless! More +
From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Schools Are Full of Activity all Summer

All summer long, Liberty-Benton hallways, gyms and auditoriums echo with the sounds of arts and athletic camps and activities. School may be out for the summer, but our buildings are still bustling with activity. Summer also presents an opportune time for the completion of projects throughout our grounds and facilities. More +
From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Celebrating Excellence

As we wrap up another successful school year, it is the perfect time to celebrate the excellence throughout this past year. 

This year we continued to pursue high-quality educational experiences for all Liberty-Benton students. High school students were able to take part in expanded elective
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Thank You!

Thank You!

The future of Liberty-Benton Local Schools is bright! Thank you to everyone who voted in support of our schools in the May elections.  Also, a heartfelt thanks to the dozens of volunteers and supporters who dedicated countless hours, tirelessly and enthusiastically, for our schools because they believe in them and in our community.   More +
From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Financial Stewardship

The Liberty-Benton School District has a long record of responsible management of taxpayer funds, utilizing every dollar we can to positively impact our next generation and prepare them for success now and in the future. We operate with the highest commitment to responsible stewardship and respect for our community, and will continue to provide an educational experience that includes research-based, data-driven

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State of the Schools

State of the Schools Address 2019

Mr. Kowalski presented the second annual State of the Schools address on March 11, 2019, in the high school auditorium.  There was a performance by Fermata the Blue Performance to start the event.
Our goal is that each Liberty-Benton graduate is equipped to reach his or her potential in: Good Character, American Citizenship, Independent Living, Academics and Critical Thinking.
The presentation is available for download.


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True Tax Impact

The Ballot

I often find myself talking about how rapidly our world is changing. Technology changes just as you learn a new way of doing things, information goes viral in seconds and we are constantly adjusting how we interact with the world. Liberty-Benton Local Schools has also changed the way we approach teaching our students and providing them with an excellent educational experience. More +
From the desk of Mark Kowalski

Open Enrollment

According to the Ohio Department of Education, “Open enrollment allows a student to attend school tuition-free in a district other than the district where his or her parents reside.” Sure, it sounds simple enough but the way open enrollment plays out in Ohio school districts is more nuanced than that. More +
from the desk of mr kowalski

Community Advisory Team Update

We are in the midst of exciting times for the future of Liberty-Benton Schools. For the past year, we have been providing information to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to receive reliable feedback about how and when we may be funded for new school facilities and upgrades. While the past year has been focused on what More +
From the desk of Mr Kowalski

Giving

There is power in giving. Power in the form of compassion, empathy and collaboration. Power in recognizing that there is a need and that you can do something to help fulfill that need. And let me tell you – our local students are powerful. More +

National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and at Liberty-Benton Local Schools we make this a focus of the educational experience we provide at all grade levels. More +

Our Students Are More Than Just a Number

At Liberty-Benton Local Schools, our students are more than just a number, ranking or grade. Sure, we are pleased with the recent grade we received on the state report card – B. We were one of only three districts in the county that received this high of a grade. We work hard every day to provide the best experiences for our students, but we could still be – and plan on! – doing more to help our Eagles continue to soar. More +
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