Darin Gullion named interim superintendent of Switzerland County School Corporation

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As Dr. Tracy Caddell conducted his final meeting on Monday night as the superintendent of the Switzerland County School Corporation, the local school board was also putting plans in place for the transition, naming Darin Gullion as the interim superintendent.

Tracy Caddell announced earlier this month that he was resigning in order to accept the superintendent’s position at the Eastern Howard School Corporation near Kokomo. He will begin his duties there in January, so the Switzerland County School Board needed to act to put a person in charge while it begins the process of identifying candidates.

Darin Gullion has a long history in Switzerland County Schools, as he is a native of the county; graduated from Switzerland County High School; taught in the system; served as principal at Jefferson-Craig Elementary School; served as director of technology; and currently continues his technology duties as he also serves as assistant superintendent.

Monday’s meeting brings to a close Tracy Caddell’s tenure as superintendent, and during public comments several board members expressed their thanks for his work.

Board member Duane Cole remarked that he came on the school board six years ago after Dr. Caddell was already serving as superintendent. He said that as a board they wanted to improve the facilities; they wanted to improve ISTEP scores; they wanted to get the lowest possible tax rates for the citizens; they wanted to make a working environment for school employees that was resourceful; and bring employees’ pay up to the state average.

Duane Cole said that – in his opinion – all of that has happened. Under Tracy Caddell’s watch, all of those things happened.

He said that he found it sad that all of those things were overlooked because of negative political overtones and comments in the media because of one issue that happened. He acknowledged that the issue also occurred under the superintendent’s watch, but that it was under the board’s watch, too; and he thought the superintendent became a “sacrificial goat”, for lack of a better term.

Duane Cole stated that Dr. Caddell maintained a very high standard of professionalism through it all and he felt as though that said a lot about the superintendent’s character.

Board member Wayne Daugherty said that he had been listening to the news during the day and heard many reports about steroid use in sports. He said that he thought that Dr. Caddell made a good decision to implement random drug testing at the high school, even though many were not happy about it at the time.

Board member Vernon Waltz acknowledged that he and the superintendent had been through some tough times together – good and bad times – and that he wanted to wish Tracy Caddell all the best in his future endeavors.

Darin Gullion also spoke about the superintendent, thanking Tracy Caddell publicly for his leadership; and also for the opportunity that he’s been given and for the trust that the board has placed in him.

The school corporation also presented Dr. Caddell with a plaque of appreciation. It read:

“Switzerland County School Corporation, December, 2007, honors Tracy Caddell for your support of our school corporation and you commitment to children. Superintendent 2001-2007. Thank You!”

The school board, in naming Darin Gullion as interim superintendent, also on Monday night approved an addendum to his contract; which provides Superintendent Gullion with the same benefits, retirement, and other non-salary considerations that Tracy Caddell would have had if he stayed on.

The contract runs through June 30th, 2008, and gives the school board time to locate and hire a new superintendent.

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The school board also approved a 2 1/2-percent pay increase across the board for non-certified employees and administrators. The pay increases were made retroactive to July 1st of this year; and the board also tabled some personnel changes that accompanied the pay increase proposal.

The school board tabled the personnel changes until next month in order to give them time to consider those changes and also to form a committee to consider a new salary schedule for the future. The committee will consist of treasurer Wilma Swango and board members Wayne Daugherty, Duane Cole, and Bill Roberts.

It is hoped that the new salary schedule will be approved by June of 2008.

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In other business discussed by the school board:

– Midterm graduation requests from Alixandra Shank-Mulligan, Amber Biddle, and Alicia Peelman were approved.

– Requests to the endowment corporation and use of facilities requests were approved. Additions to the use of facilities request form were also approved.

– The school calendar for the 2008-2009 school year was also approved. Students will begin school on Friday, August 15th; and graduation is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, June 7th, 2009.

– The school board accepted a donation of $1,000 for the athletic building from the Vevay American Legion.

– A decision on converting the high school to a trimester schedule, where students would have three 12-week semesters rather than the traditional two 18-week semesters, was tabled by the school board. It directed high school principal Candis Haskell to hold a public meeting to hear parent input on the issue and also to answer questions that parents may have.

That meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 9th, at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

– The school board announced that it will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, January 2nd.