The Whitehall school board officially will kick off the new year with its budget hearing and organizational meeting today, Jan. 9.

The Whitehall school board officially will kick off the new year with its budget hearing and organizational meeting today, Jan. 9.

During the two sessions, the panel will work through a number of annual procedures, including electing a board president and vice president.

The board's regular monthly meeting immediately will follow.

The panel's budget session begins at 5:30 p.m. and will include a brief overview of the district's current budget and its five-year projections.

The fiscal hearing will be followed by the group's annual organizational meeting at 6 p.m., during which a president and vice president will be elected for 2014. It's expected that Walter Armes again will be elected president. He's held the position for more than a decade of his 21 years on the board.

The panel also will welcome newcomer Leo Knoblauch, elected in November. While this is his first term on the school board, he served on Whitehall City Council for eight years.

Also during the board's organizational session, members will be elected to serve on a number of different boards and panels. The dates and times of all upcoming meetings will be established as well.

Board members likely will agree to continue their pay rate of $125 a meeting, not to exceed 14 meetings a year. If the group meets more than 14 times a year -- often required because of special circumstances, particularly during construction -- members will not be paid.

The board's regular monthly meeting will follow the budget and organizational sessions. There, members will be recognized as a part of Ohio's School Board Recognition Month in January.

"Ohioans benefit every day from the dedicated energies and countless hours devoted by a group of more than 3,400 men and women across the state," said district Superintendent Brian Hamler in a press release this week. "These public servants are elected to serve by local citizens and receive little compensation for their tireless efforts. These men and women are the local school board members of Ohio.

"These people unselfishly contribute their time and talents toward the advancement of public education," he said. "They represent a continuing commitment to local citizen control and decision-making in education."

School Board Recognition Month regularly occurs in January and honors the members of Ohio's 718 city, exempted village, local and joint vocational boards of education and educational service center governing boards for their commitment.

Traditionally, board members in Whitehall are presented with gifts from each of the district's five schools.

Today's regular board meeting also will include a special presentation to Paulette Pettiford, a longtime volunteer at Kae Avenue Elementary School, along with an update on the district's ongoing construction project -- including the addition of 12 new classrooms -- from Craig Kertesz, the project's construction manager.

All three meetings will be held in the media center at Whitehall-Yearling High School, 675 S. Yearling Road.