Van-Far adds staff members

Elizabeth O'Farrell

Charlie Stroker, the Van-Far School District transportation director, told the school board that it was time to “thin the herd” and sacrifice a bus for surplus. The engine on bus 12 died, so the choice is an easy one. Stroker said it could bring in $1,250 for scrap.

“It needs to be gone by June 30,” he said.

Stroker is retiring this year, but Van-Far already found a replacement. During an executive session on May 20, the board voted to bring in Jon Barney as the new transportation director and maintenance support.

But that was just one of a slew of new hirings during the session. The board filled teaching, coaching and support positions, as well as naming the school success coach.

Stephen Gschwender is the incoming physical education instructor for both the high school and middle school. Alicyn Quick is now the elementary music teacher. Teri Udelhoven will teach elementary art and Dawn Niemeyer is the new special education instructor.

Success coach Heather Minter’s role is to help students set and achieve their goals, as well as to mentor them along the way.

Four people were hired for support positions. Rachel White is the new paraprofessional, Parker Pitts accepted the substitute custodian position, Tericka Pearl steps in year round as health room aide and summer school health room aide while Dillion Minor will provide summer tech help.

There are new coaching roles, as well. Gschwender takes the helm of the high school and middle school football teams, as well as both boys’ track teams. Heather Minter will assist high school softball. Basketball coach Pat Conaway adds high school baseball to his resume.

Cody Gilley will assist with high school baseball. Cale Utterback is now the assistant junior high football while Lucas Gibson takes on assistant high school football duties. And the board named Sam Utterback to the junior high girls’ basketball post.

The board also voted to hire the following people for extracurricular duties: Megan Ulrich, junior high student council sponsor; Dawn Taylor, junior high National Honor Society sponsor and Kris Kross and Theresa Winders, prom sponsors.

Superintendent John Fortney told the board that the June meeting would include the 2021-22 budget and said that it had been built with the expectation of flat growth. The Board set the next meeting for June 24, wanting it to be as close to the end of the fiscal year as possible.


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