John Siler has officially been hired as the next superintendent of the Whitley County School District.
The board of education voted unanimously during its regular meeting Thursday to offer Siler a four-year contract, which begins July 1, and he signed the new contract during the meeting.
“He is going to do a fantastic job for you,” noted outgoing Superintendent Scott Paul, who is retiring on June 30.
After signing his new contract, Siler introduced his wife, Jennifer, and his two children, Landon, who is a sixth grader, and Lauren, who is a kindergarten student.
“They have been very supportive,” Siler noted.
In addition, he recognized his mother, former assistant superintendent Joann Siler, who needed no introduction.
“She was very much been somebody, who has molded me,” he added. “She is a mentor and definitely somebody to look up to and try and be like. I always admired her. I know the time she put into the district and sacrificed.”
During its monthly meeting Thursday, the board also approved the $631,250 Striving Readers Grant, which is
a two-year grant.
Deputy Superintendent Paula Trickett said that to say the district is thrilled to be receiving the grant is an understatement.
“With all of the cuts that we have taken the last so many years, there has been practically zero money for professional development and classroom resources. This is going to fill a big hole for us,” she said.
The grant is a birth through grade 12 program with 16 percent of the funds serving birth through five year old, 42 percent serving kindergarten through fifth grade, and
42 percent serving grades six through 12.
“It also includes partnerships with Bell-Whitley Head Start in an expanded way, Save the Children, First Century and the Whitley County Public Library. It is going to allow us to leverage all these resources together and get even more bang for our buck,” she said.
In addition, the board approved the tentative budget for the 2018-2019 school year, which totals about $42.9 million.
Trickett noted that the tentative budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which starts July 1, looks much different than the proposed budget that she presented to the board in February.
Most notably, the district didn’t sustain $2 million in funding cuts, which had initially been the in governor’s proposed budget.
Instead, the district only lost about $200,000 in state funding, but did make up for it in some areas.
The 2018-2019 fiscal year budget, includes over $1 million in contingency funding or a 3 percent contingency fund. By law, the district is required to have at least a 2 percent contingency fund.
The budget doesn’t include pay raises for employees, except for automatic raises related to years of experience or rank increases due to degree or certification completion.
The proposed budget also includes no funding to purchase new school buses.
“We’ll just have to hire more mechanics,” joked longtime Board Member J.E. Jones.
Paul noted that several older buses are being decommissioned this year due to age and wear.
Trickett added that even with no bus purchases this year, the district is still in pretty good shape. The district has purchased 15 new buses in recent years, including five this current fiscal year.
Whitley County school buses travel 5,000 miles and use 650 gallons of diesel fuel per day.
In other business, the board:
• Recognized seven teachers, who recently completed a leadership-training program, which is designed for teachers, who hope to move into principal or other administrative positions.
Trickett noted that several years ago, the board authorized the formation of the program, and out of the first eight people enrolled in that first class, seven are now in administrative roles.
Thursday evening, the board recognized the second class of teachers, who completed the program, including: Laurel Bowlin, Missy Conlin, Erika Gaylor, Randy Love, Dewayne Partin, Vanessa Sizemore and Angie Wilson.
Board Chairman Larry Lambdin asked whether the district planned to continue that program to which Trickett noted that was a question, which was best addressed to Siler.
Siler later added that he definitely plans to continue the program.
“I am all for it. It has been a huge success in our district,” he said.
• Recognized WCHS student River Braden, who scored a perfect 36 on the ACT test. Paul noted this is the first perfect 36 that he can remember a WCHS student achieving.