The closing of Perry Middle School seems to be a done deal, despite the continuing pleas of parents and students.

The closing of Perry Middle School seems to be a done deal, despite the continuing pleas of parents and students.

For the third meeting in a row, opponents of the closing dominated the public comment portion of the meeting of the Worthington Board of Education on Monday.

And as in the previous meetings, the board did not directly respond to the speakers or the audience, which applauded long and loudly at the end of each five-minute speech.

Five parents, a student, and a teacher made points much the same as those made at past meetings: moving the students from Perry to McCord Middle School will create an unmanageable, impersonal school that will not meet the needs of the students.

"Will my child become a number mixed in with 500 other students?" asked parent Kristi Dorn-Wachtel.

Approximately 150 Perry students will move to McCord next year in an effort to save money for the district. The 160 students in the alternative Phoenix Middle School will remain in the Perry building.

"How much is it going to cost taxpayers to keep 160 students in the Perry building next year?" asked Lore Dorn-Cook. "Is it worth it?"

Student Alex Emrick and teacher Leslee Levette also criticized the decision to combine health education with physical education in a one-semester class. Currently, all eighth-graders take a full semester of health, which covers issues such as sexuality, drugs, and making life choices.

Emrick handed the board a petition signed by 200 students, teachers, and parents. It asked that the board reconsider shortening the health course.

Dorn-Cook questioned the board's decision to hire another administrator as part of the Perry-McCord merger.

Later in the meeting, the board voted 3-2 to hire Nathan Kellenberger as assistant principal/athletic director at McCord. He is currently a dean at New Albany Middle School.

Board member Marc Schare was outspoken in his opposition to the hiring. His was not a statement against the merger of the two schools, but against the $87,194 salary that was given to Kellenberger.

The salary was based on the administrative schedule for high school administrators, he said, calling the salary schedule a "sacred cow." He said he had never been part of a hiring in which the candidate's current salary was not considered during negotiations.

"We have to start thinking outside of the box," Schare said.

Superintendent Melissa Conrath said Kellenberger was hired as an assistant principal because the dean of students at McCord wanted to return to the classroom. As an assistant principal, the job duties can go beyond the discipline responsibilities of a dean, she said.

He will also fill the position of athletic director, which is currently filled by a teacher paid by a supplemental contract.

The district is actually saving $1,600 a year, Conrath said.