Three new administrators to serve in HCCSC schools

(From left) Jennifer Shepherd, Jeremy Willson and Melinda Otwinowski.
(From left) Jennifer Shepherd, Jeremy Willson and Melinda Otwinowski. Photos by Rebecca Sandlin

The Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees approved a slate of new administrators during its regular meeting Monday, June 26, in anticipation of the quickly-approaching new school year.

Three assistant principals and one interim principal were approved.

Jennifer Shepherd will serve as assistant principal at Huntington North High School. She comes to HCCSC from Manchester University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science. She also earned a Master of Arts in higher education administration and student personnel from Kent State University and a certification in secondary administration and supervision from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Shepherd has served in education since 1990, having previously worked in Warsaw and Rochester school corporations.

“Ms. Shepherd’s experience as an administrator and time in higher education at Manchester University will be a true asset to our leadership team at Huntington North,” said HNHS Principal Russ Degitz.

Jeremy Willson will become Crestview Middle School’s next assistant principal, replacing Shane Grove.

Willson previously served with Fort Wayne Community Schools. His education background includes a Bachelor of Science from Saint Joseph’s College and a Master of Science in education, educational leadership from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Crestview Principal Chuck Werth said Willson’s references factored in to his selection as the middle school’s next assistant principal.

“His references all raved about his strong leadership style, his propensity to do what is best for students, and also stated that they could not say enough good things about him to do him justice,” Werth said. “They all indicated that it will be a huge loss to their building and corporation to see him leave.”

Christopher Baut will serve as the new assistant principal at Riverview Middle School, coming to HCCSC with 11 years of experience with Fort Wayne Community Schools. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Trine University and an English teaching certificate from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. He earned a Master of Education from Indiana University.

Baut was not in attendance at the board meeting; however, Principal James Bragg said Baut “is an organized leader that is proactive, respectful and honest. He is skilled at analyzing data and developing outstanding relationships with students, teachers and parents.”

Melinda Otwinowski, who already serves in HCCSC, moves from the guidance counselor position at Salamonie Elementary School to interim principal at Lancaster Elementary.

She obtained her Bachelor of Science in humanities social sciences and education with distinction in elementary education from Purdue University; a Master of Science in education with counseling distinction from Indiana University; and an endorsement in educational leadership from Western Governors University.

HCCSC Superintendent Randy Harris said Otwinowski has done an excellent job at Salamonie School.

“Her experience in teaching and guidance has provided her with the skills necessary to be the interim principal at Lancaster,” he said. “I am excited by what she will be accomplishing during the next year.”

All administrators were approved 5-0. Board members Brian Warpup and Matt Melcher were absent.

The first day of the new 2017-18 school year for students is Aug. 9.

The board extended the contract for football Coach Rick Burnau for an additional year.

Board members also heard from architect Dana Wanamaker of Barton-Coe-Vilamaa, who provided an assessment of the aging high school building.

Wanamaker said the building can accommodate 1,800 students. However, there are old systems in place at the school that are no longer allowed but are grandfathered in, such as an obsolete air circulation problem which circulates germs freely, causing health concerns.

“The building should be able to handle the current population,” he said. “The question is, how well does it handle it?”

Some classrooms are small for a contemporary school, Wanamaker said. He also told the board the divided, two-campus site creates issues of students’ safety. A major concern are leaks in the roof of a building at Kriegbaum Field, which travel in downspouts that allow water for find its way into the building. The structure is sound but will likely deteriorate, he said.

Among several other issues, tile flooring found in some classrooms contains asbestos, Wanamaker said, which will not pose a problem until it is disturbed. The school’s HVAC system also contains original equipment and will need to be replaced.

Wanamaker said it could cost up to $80.5 million to construct a new high school building, and another $14.5 million for new athletic courts.

In other business:

• The board unanimously approved a new career and technical education agreement for Area 18 schools. The agreement prohibits school systems from taking buses into the others’ districts to transport students to their schools.

• The board approved $4,000 to pay to extracurricular treasurers to conduct an internal extracurricular activities audit. Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Jon Bennett said the treasurers from each school will conduct audits of another school’s ECA program.

• The next public work session meeting will be held Monday, July 10, at 7 p.m. in the board room at Horace Mann Elementary School. Board President Matt Roth said discussion on school closure options will continue from the previous meeting and questions posed by the public and teachers will be addressed.