Board hires assistant principals, OKs plan for employee bonuses
GENTRY — The school board for the Gentry School District, on Aug. 15, approved a large number of personnel changes, including making Brian Little the interim assistant principal at the high school and Brent Hester the athletic director and the assistant principal at the middle school.
According to Terrie DePaola, superintendent of Gentry School District, she added the assistant principal positions because enrollment numbers require another administrator in the high school and middle school.
Little was hired as an interim assistant principal because there wasn’t time to advertise and accept resumes before the start of classes. Whether Little continues
in that position will be determined next spring when administrator contracts are renewed, she said.
Another full-time school resource officer is also being added, bringing the district total to two fulltime and one part-time SRO. DePaola reported that she might be able to hire another full-time officer when money earmarked for school security in the special session of the state legislature is made available.
Enrollment numbers in the district as of the morning of Aug. 15 were at 1,631 with more enrollments coming in daily.
Other personnel changes brought before the board on Aug. 15 include the certified resignation of Holly Parnell at the intermediate school and the classified resignations of Kim Acuff as high school ALE instructor and Tiffany Makey as a nurse at the primary school.
Certified staff hiring included Brent Hester as assistant principal at the middle school and the district athletic director, Brian Little as interim assistant principal at the high school, Tyler McReynolds as interim head basketball coach and physical education and JAG teacher, Amy Stromgren as a fourthgrade teacher, Alison Geer as an eighth-grade math teacher, Lorris Spikes as sixth-grade ELA teacher, John “Matt” Morgan to teach high school social studies, Kesha Walker to teach high school math, Michaela Heese as a fifth-grade teacher, Rachel Mathison as a kindergarten teacher, Eva Ortega to teach first grade, Mercedes Ashley as a middle and high school reading teacher, Garrett Burcham as head junior high basketball coach and physical education and health teacher, Ken Bolinger as a middle school physical education teacher, Vivian Hinton as a one-year special education teacher, Peter Gordan as an ALE Teacher.
Stipends were approved for Tyler Clark as ALE codirector, Jeremy Shopper as ALE co-director, Anthony Herbaugh as gifted and talented coordinator and AP coordinator, Tyler McReynolds as interim head basketball coach and assistant junior high boys basketball coach, Garrett Burcham as assistant senior high basketball coach and head junior high basketball and seventh-grade basketball coach, Tyler Clark as head wrestling coach, Courtney Place as head junior-high girls volleyball coach, Delanie Tipton as assistant junior girls basketball, Anthony Herbaugh as esports coach, Michael Mullen as head baseball coach, Andrea Folger as intermediate school literacy MCL, Scott McCollum as boys cross country coach, Jamie Johnson as girls cross country coach.
Classified hiring included Bridget January as a custodian, Mattie Dodson as a special education paraprofessional, Bobbie Martin as a special education paraprofessional, Jane McMillan and Kimberly Brown as cafeteria workers, Stacy Phelps and Mirna Ruzek as nurses. Raena Tellez was transferred to work as a duty aide.
The board also approved a three-month leave for a cafeteria worker following a surgery.
Though it remains subject to state approval, Superintendent DePaola asked and received from the board approval of a plan to use funds from ARP (American Recovery Plan) and ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) to give bonuses to full-time teachers and staff members during the current school year. The plan would give teachers $5,000 and classified staff $2,500, costing the district between $1.2 and $1.5 million.
DePaola said the plan included taking approximately $500,000 and possibly as much as $750,000 from funds now in the school building fund to supplement approximately $750,000 in ARP ESSER funds to make this possible. She said those receiving the bonuses would be required to be working on campus. Should a teacher or staff member leave the school’s employ, the money would be required to be returned to the school district and could be deducted from final paychecks.
Though DePaola said at the meeting the bonuses would probably be paid in two parts (in the late fall and the early spring), on Friday she said it would probably be paid in one payment rather than two if the plan is approved.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act was signed into law on March 11, 2021. It was an unprecedented $1.9 trillion package of assistance measures, including $122 billion for the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund.
The board approved a request from the Gentry FFA officers to allow FFA officers and members on the milk products team to attend the national FFA convention in Indianapolis, Ind., on Oct. 25-29. FFA officers Robert Baker, Madison Lenda, Kayla Philpott, Reagan Amos, Bailey Malone and Jace Galyean were present at the meeting to make the request to the board. The Gentry FFA is sponsored by Wendy Jackson, an agriculture teacher at the high school.
DePaola told the board she would be asking the high school and middle school principals to review the school district’s policies and include the issue of vaping in the student policy.
Jason Barrett, transportation and maintenance supervisor, told the board that the architects had plans ready for the HVAC project for the high school and middle school gyms. He said the architectural firm suggested this might be a good project for the use of a construction manager. The board approved sending out a request for qualifications so that it can select a list of qualified construction managers from which contract negotiations may occur. The likelihood of a special meeting in September to select professionals when qualifications are received was suggested since the regular September meeting is not until late in the month.
Equipment for the HVAC project is not likely to be available until May or June of next year, according to Barrett.
Superintendent DePaola told the board she had been approached by ABC preschool (Gentry Early Learning Academy) about the possibility of taking over the operation of the preschool. Gentry School District does not currently operate a preschool program.
Prior to the regular meeting, the board toured the new mobile classroom facility purchased by the district so that there are enough classrooms for the school year. The 10-classroom facility is located behind the high school and middle school and will be used as a classroom facility for the two schools. Board members expressed their approval of the new facility, as well as their thanks to all who worked to have the facility ready for the first day of classes.