S-OCS Board Votes Against Renewal Of Nearly All Administrator Contracts
Members of the Spencer-Owen School Board voted against a proposed two-year renewal of current administrator contracts Thursday night, with the exception of one contract, that of Gosport Elementary School Principal Carol Watson.
Board members Tom Abrell, Terry Tackett, Kelly Hughes, Rick Smeltzer, Jason Hale and Jack White were present, along with S-OCS Superintendent Greg Linton and corporation attorney Jack Woodruff. Missing from Thursday’s meeting was board member Dick Ranard.
Administrators affected include Linda Epeards (McCormick’s Creek Elementary School Principal), Brock Beeman (S-OCS Curriculum Director), Randy Roberts (S-OCS Business Manager), Aaron LaGrange (Owen Valley Middle School Principal), Donnie Carver (Spencer Elementary School Principal), Amy Elkins (Patricksburg Elementary School Principal), and George Jennings (Owen Valley High School Assistant Principal).
The board did approve a twoyear contract for Watson, reportedly on the basis that Gosport Elementary School achieved AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for two consecutive years.
The board noted that its decision to deny the request to renew additional contracts was not based on performance, but rather due to ongoing financial constraints.
“It’s not lack of confidence or poor performance, but, moneywise, it makes sense for one-year contracts instead of two,” Smeltzer said.
“We are risking $500,000 to do two-year contracts,” Abrell added. “If we let an individual go, then we still have to pay the remaining contract; and we still need to make a lot of cuts.”
“If we had more money, then, yes, we would approve (the contracts),” Tackett noted. “However, right now, it doesn’t make good business sense. It is our responsibility as a board and to the taxpayers not to approve multi-year contracts.”
Linton explained that although the two-year contracts took into consideration the corporation’s current financial constraints, he understood that there were going to have to be cuts made due to a loss of revenue caused by fewer students being enrolled corporation wide.
Linton emphasized that there were no plans to close any buildings (schools) within the next two years, and expressed fear that once a school was closed that it would not reopen in the future.
“We have turned a corner for school improvement for the past three to four years, especially with last year’s large gains on the ISTEP,” Linton said.
The board voted 2-4 to deny the contracts.
Hughes added, “It’s not personally based, we are excited and pleased with the improvements made, we just need more constant improvements before committing to two-year contracts.”
Concerning field trips, the board approved requests for an out-of-state and overnight field trip for members of the Owen Valley High School Band to Disney Theme Parks in Orlando, Florida, March 25-29 (spring break), as well as an out-of-state field trip to participate in the Kentucky Derby parade on May 3.
“We are fortunate enough to provide these educational experiences with the band,” OVHS Band Director Dominic Thompson said. “It also puts us back on the regional stage at the Kentucky Derby. It will improve retention, and the Disney trip will give members a lifetime experience.”
An estimated 75 to 100 high school students are expected to participate in the trips; however, Thompson noted that an invitation will be extended to seventh and eighth graders as well, bringing the total number of students offered the opportunity to 150.
“I went to Disney World to preform when I was in band and it was an amazing experience,” Hughes told Thompson. “I have never forgotten it. Thank you for providing this amazing opportunity (for our students).”
Additional field trip requests receiving board approval included an out-of-state and overnight trip to Washington, D.C. for the Owen Valley Middle School Travel Club, June 8-12; and an overnight trip for the Owen Valley FFA to attend a Leadership Development Workshop in Trafalgar, Indiana, February 17-19.
Members of the Spencer-Owen School Board will meet again on Thursday, January 12 beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Leah Watt Activity Center at Spencer Elementary School.
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