Van Wert City Board of Education and administration officials met virtually Wednesday using Zoom videoconferencing software. The meeting was then streamed to Facebook to avoid a face-to-face gathering that could violate Ohio’s COVID-19 ban against public meetings of more than 10 people. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent
Teachers in the Van Wert City School District have a new three-year contract.
Meeting remotely via Zoom video conferencing and streaming live on Facebook, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Van Wert City Board of Education voted 5-0 on Wednesday to approve the deal with the Van Wert Federation of Teachers. The new contract begins August 1 and calls for a 2 percent raise each year. Teachers will pay an additional one percent for health insurance.
“We’re really excited to have moved very smoothly, efficiently, and effectively through the negotiation process,” board member Rachel Dickman said. “This year we did a process called issue-based bargaining and I think that was very effective and I’d like to thank Vicki for leading us through that process.”
“This has been the best experience that I’ve ever been through with negotiating,” Superintendent Vicki Brunn said. “The team sitting with us were very interested in doing what’s best for our district and for our students and I just can’t thank them enough.”
Brunn noted that efforts will now turn to a new contract for classified staff members.
The board also officially approved Mark Bagley as the district’s next superintendent. Bagley, who will resign as Van Wert Middle School principal, effective July 31, will take over for Brunn the following day. He was given a three-year contract.
“We’re really working hard on a transition plan and it makes it even more difficult when we’re having to work remotely, but we will get there and I’m happy to say that Mark is going to be taking the helm and I know Van Wert will be in great hands,” Brunn said.
“In these uncertain times it’s been great to have someone with Vicki’s experience at the helm to guide us through this, but it’s wonderful that we found someone with the experience that Mr. Bagley has,” Board President Anthony Adams said. “He’s getting even more experience right now through this time and this is going to be an important learning experience. We feel comfortable that his passion and his experience in administration will serve us well going forward.”
Brunn and Assistant Superintendent Bill Clifton thanked teachers and staff members for their efforts during the COVID-19 outbreak and Clifton said the district’s meal plan for students is going smoothly.
“On Monday we had 500 breakfast and lunch meals prepared because we didn’t know what to expect,” Clifton explained. “We served 179 families with ‘grab-and-go’ bags on Monday and 174 went out on Tuesday and today we were up to 202.”
Clifton added that next week, meals will be distributed twice a week — Monday for Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday for that day, Thursday, and Friday — and he noted the free meals are for any Van Wert City Schools student, along with district students from Vantage Career Center and Synergy Learning Center.
The board also heard brief student learning updates from each building principal and board member Scott Mull said a request for bids will go out soon for the annexation project at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. He added that minor revisions were made to the existing plans.
Van Wert High School Principal Bob Priest told the board that advanced placement tests will be modified from three hours to 45 minutes and will be administered at home.
Board members accepted the resignations of high school art teacher Hailey Gross and Early Childhood secretary Linda Gamble, who is retiring after 18 years of service to the district, and hired Benjamin Showalter as bus maintenance supervisor and Christopher Cochrane as a K-5 intervention specialist. The board also okayed a supplemental contract for Katie Peterson as an assistant boys’ tennis coach, along with a lease agreement with the city of Van Wert for July 4 fireworks on the high school campus.
The next meeting of the Van Wert City Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, in the First Federal Lecture Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.
Original article courtesy of The Van Wert Independent