GREENVILLE — The Greenville school board announced the hiring of Sara Lewis as their new high school band director on Thursday, listened to concerns from parents regarding advanced placement courses and high teacher and administrator turnover, and heard an emotional plea from an instructor regarding his own potential resignation.
“We were very impressed with Sara during the interview process,” school superintendent Douglas Fries said regarding Lewis’ hiring. “She comes to us with a couple years of experience at Mississinawa Valley.” Lewis will be replacing Erick Von Sas, who left at the end of last year to accept a position in Annapolis, Maryland.
The public hearing portion of the meeting focused largely on parent concerns over course offerings and the departure of beloved teachers, with parent and DeColores Montessori School teacher Lisa Frens first expressing hope that Greenville Schools would continue to schedule non-college-credit advanced placement courses alongside College Credit Plus offerings, citing concern that a lack of such courses would leave many students unprepared for college-level writing.
“In the community, there’s a perception that if you want advanced placement classes, it’s got to be College Credit Plus,” Frens said, but school board members insisted that non-college-credit courses were not being phased out.
Parent and Greenville resident Jon Coomer expressed concern that new teachers be hired based on skill and experience, rather than focusing on less experienced and, presumably, more affordable hires. He also raised concerns about teachers possibly leaving because of management turnover at Greenville schools.
“In my experience in the private sector, people don’t quit jobs. They quit managers,” Coomer said. “They’ve had three principals since 2013. There’s not a lot of consistency in management.” The superintendent assured Mr. Coomer and others present that hiring decisions would always be made based on finding the best person for the position, rather than being based on financial concerns.
Greenville ROTC instructor Richard Kuehner, meanwhile, made a lengthy and emotional plea to the school board, asking them to accept his own resignation in the event he was offered a position at Scarlet Oaks in Cincinnati.
Lt. Kuehner, a Cincinnati native, said he returned to Ohio a year and a half earlier, after twenty years away, to be close to family and friends, but accepted the position with Greenville City Schools after being told that no new ROTC positions would be opening up in the Cincinnati area for at least five to ten years. The position at Scarlet Oaks had unexpectedly come available, but not in time for Kuehner to submit his resignation to Greenville for the coming year by the usual mandatory deadline of July 10.
“I would be within 14 minutes of my brother’s house,” Lt. Kuehner said, referencing the long commute he currently faces in order to visit loved ones in Cincinnati. “I’d actually be able to go to dinner on a week night. I’d be down the street from my mother. So I’m here to ask you to let me go home.”
The board later voted to accept Lt. Kuehner’s resignation should he be offered the position at Scarlet Oaks.
Attendees were also updated on efforts to re-turf the Greenville High School track and football fields, with several board members praising the work being done. The process was reported to have been about half completed as of Thursday evening, with the football field expected to be finished by August and the track field by late Fall.
A sample of the new turf was available for inspection at the entrance to the school board’s meeting chamber at St. Clair Memorial Hall.
“Just for everybody’s sake, you did walk on the fifty-yard line tonight,” said board member David Ernst, referring to the square of turf laid out at the room’s entrance. “So those of you who have not jumped the fence, or moved the gate, or snuck underneath the barbed wire to go on the field, you can say you actually walked on the field tonight.”
Repainting of sidewalks surrounding the elementary school and repairs to cracks in the asphalt of the school’s parking lot were also reportedly underway, while demolition of the old junior high school building was expected to begin within the next week.