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Niemerg leaving VCHS post for job in Sigel

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By Dave Bell

The Vandalia Board of Education on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Vandalia Community High School Assistant Principal Nick Niemerg, effective June 30.
Niemerg, 32, who taught high school science for five years and has been the assistant principal for the past two years, will become principal of St. Michael Grade School in Sigel. The school has about 120 students in grades K-8.
The move takes Niemerg and his wife, Beth, back to their home area. Both attended school in the Teutopolis School District. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Illinois University.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of having my own building,” Niemerg said. “I want to thank the school board, administration, staff and students here. It’s been a great opportunity, and I learned a lot. The relationships and the experience I got here have been very important to me.”
Superintendent Rich Well added: “This is a great opportunity for Mr. Niemerg to be in charge of his own building, and to get back to his home area. He’s done an outstanding job for us.”
Tuesday’s meeting also marked the end of Jay Carroll’s 20-year tenure on the board, the past 14 as president.
“He’s helped me tremendously in my seven years as superintendent,” Well said. “He has a business-world background, and his mom and dad were both teachers. He’s been invaluable to me as a beginning superintendent.”
A special meeting will be held before the May school board meeting to seat the board’s newly elected member, John Campbell, and to select officers.
Also at Tuesday’s monthly meeting, Well told the board that the district’s fund balance continues to shrink, due primarily to reductions in the money the district is receiving from the state. In the four operating accounts over which the district has control, the current balance is $4,223,992. However, that number is expected to shrink to just over $3 million by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
“We depend on that fund balance to get us through the summer months and the early fall until we get property taxes,” Well said. “We have to keep paying the bills and making payroll over the summer, and if we don’t have the fund balance, we have to borrow money.”
Each month’s payroll represents about $500,000, Well said.
He said that the property taxes come in two installments – the first is usually in late September and the second in late October.
Also in the financial area, Well said that the tentative budget for the upcoming fiscal year is now on display at the district administration office. “There will be many changes before the end of the year, though,” he said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board heard from Vandalia Junior High School teacher Debbie Hobbie about a new program called “Girls on the Run.” In that program, Hobbie and two other teachers, Ruth Chesney and Shelly Caylor, meet twice weekly with a small group of junior high girls to teach life skills and improve their physical fitness. The program concludes with the girls participating in a 5K run.
“This program teaches the girls that they can do so much more than they thought they could,” Hobbie said. “It has transformed them, pulling them out of the ‘girl box’ and producing joyful, healthy and confident young women.”
After a 90-minute closed meeting to discuss personnel issues, the board took the following action:
• Approved the honorable release of all non-teaching coaches: Joe Schaal (JV boys basketball); Jane Bell (JV girls volleyball, seventh-grade volleyball and high school boys track); Michelle Otto (high school basketball and football cheerleading); Allison Brown (high school volleyball); Matt Shroyer (JV wrestling); Misty Thompson (junior high cheerleading); Dana Kirk (seventh-grade basketball); and Lucas Benning (freshman and sophomore boys basketball). The non-teaching coaches are released every spring, and hiring is done later for the upcoming school year.
• Approved the continuation of the district’s cooperative agreement with Vandalia Christian Academy. That agreement has been in place for the past two years.
• Approved the final version of the amended calendar for the 2012-13 school year. Major dates on that calendar are: prom, April 27; baccalaureate, May 15 at 7 p.m.; graduation, May 18 at 7 p.m.; final exams, May 24 and 28; last student day, May 28; and last teacher day, May 29.
• Approved the retirement of Elaine Forehand, Jefferson Primary School cook, effective May 28.
• Approved a one-year medical leave of absence for Donna Evans, a district bus driver.
• Approved June 3 as the final day that the district must receive $55,000 to reinstate the district’s fourth music position. If that amount is not received, the position of Tony Hicks, VCHS band director, will be eliminated. Several fundraising events are being conducted in the community in order to save that position.
Well also noted that he will be joining with several area superintendents to meet with Illinois Senate Education Committee chair, William Delgado, and state Sen. Andy Manar this Thursday in Springfield. The meeting will cover education financial issues and unfunded mandates that impact local school districts.