Vandalia School Board handles a number of personnel issues

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By Dave Bell

After an executive session lasting more than 90 minutes, the Vandalia Board of Education handled a variety of personnel issues at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.

Upon returning to open session, the board approved the resignations of Jeri-Lynn Burnam (Jefferson Primary School teacher), Cathy Houghtaling (Vandalia Elementary School teacher), Mike Butler (Vandalia Community High School girls basketball coach), Meggyn Sytar (Vandalia Junior High School cheerleading coach) and Todd Ehlers (VJHS boys basketball coach).

The board also approved a resolution to not rehire Carrie Soloman, a non-tenured math teacher at VCHS.

To replace Butler as varsity basketball coach and retiring VCHS physical education teacher Pam Raymer, the board hired Vandalia native Michelle McNary.

A former standout player and assistant basketball coach at VCHS, she currently teaches junior high PE and health in the Pana School District. (See Page 1B for full story.)

In other personnel matters, the board approved the following fourth-year teachers to be on tenure status, beginning with the 2009/2010 school year: Kelley Bellaver, third grade teacher; Marissa Shoemaker, VCHS and VJHS computer teacher; Kelli White, VCHS and Okaw Area Vocational Center teacher; and Laurna Knebel, VCHS and Okaw Area Vocational Center teacher.

First-, second- or third-year teachers approved for rehire were: Scott Wright, Kevin Jackson, Mandi Austin, David Koleson, Nick Niemerg, Chris Irwin, Jaclyn Daniels, Jessica Eckard, Shelly Forys, Kathleen Grandt, Tammy Hall, Lee Hicks, Tony Hicks, Lori Johnson, Beth O’Brien-Schmidt, Renee Whightsil, Amber Connor, Mary Flack, James Moore, Susan Strange and Kathleen Todd.

The board also approved the hiring of the following: Anne Winchester as VCHS Spanish teacher; Beth Kern and Luke Hohlt as co-sponsors of the VCHS student council; and Jeremy Curll, Hannah Edgar and Dana Kirk as volunteer VCHS girls softball coaches.

The transfer of custodian Randy Carroll from VCHS to Jefferson Primary School also was approved.

Five district employees have submitted their intentions to retire: Brenda McKinney (VJHS cook), May 29, 2009; Cherie Woods (JPS and VES art), June 2012; Geri Reuss (VJHS physical education), June 2013; Gail DePaolo (VJHS guidance), June 2013; and Ann Stock (VJHS physical education), June 2013.

In other matters, Superintendent Rich Well told the board that although the district’s finances generally are “looking good,” state funding is falling behind in several categories.

“We’ve only received one payment out of four in the ‘categorical’ accounts,” he said. Those accounts include funds for transportation, food service and special education.

In contrast, Well said that general state aid payments are on schedule so far.

“We’re still in a good position,” Well said, “but the unknowns out there are something we must be aware of and plan for.

"If we don’t get state payments, that’s a whole new ball game.”

Well said that the district has been closely tracking expenditures in electricity, heating fuel and vehicular fuel (gas and diesel) this year.

“These are the things that fluctuate, so we’ve been watching them,” he said.

“So far, they are less than 60 percent of the annual budget, and we’re more than 60 percent through the fiscal year (which ends June 30).”

As of March 12, the district had a total balance of $4,333,379. Last year at this time, the total balance was $3.7 million.

The balance in the four operating accounts (education, building, transportation and working cash) was $3,561,913. Last year at this time, the operating balance was about $2 million.

In order to bring more “transparency” to the district’s finances, Well said that the district’s bills will now be placed on its Web site (www.vcs.fayette.k12.il.us).

“People want to be informed about the financial condition of the district,” he said. “We want to be as transparent and open as possible.”

The board also approved an amended calendar for the current school year, setting May 29 as the last day of classes, May 30 as graduation day and June 1 as the teacher’s last day.

Retiring school board member Tammy Woolsey was recognized for her 12 years of service on the board.

Board member Jay Smith was absent from the meeting.