Superintendent Caddell leaving for new position in January

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Switzerland County School Superintendent Tracy Caddell has resigned his position here and will be the new superintendent of the Eastern Howard School Corporation beginning January 1st.

The resignation is expected to be formally accepted by the local school board at a special meeting that will be held tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. at the central office; and plans will then begin for a transition to a new administration.

Excited to begin his new position, Tracy Caddell also leaves with mixed feelings, as he is a native of Switzerland County and a graduate of Switzerland County High School.

“I love it here,” he said this week after confirming his resignation. “But with a split board it’s hard to move forward. That’s not knocking the board in any shape or form, but they just need a superintendent who they are unified behind. With the Ann Geyman situation, that’s made it difficult.”

Ann Geyman was the school corporation’s treasurer until May of this year, when it was discovered that she had been embezzling over $1 million in school funds. She has reached a plea agreement on those charges, and will be sentenced at a later date.

Although he and other administrators were cleared of any wrong doing by law enforcement agencies and by state auditors – who reported that it would have been nearly impossible for routine examinations to uncover the thefts – the situation polarized the community and the school board members as to the degree of responsibility that should fall on Tracy Caddell.

In its September meeting, the members of the school board voted to eliminate the roll over provision in Dr. Caddell’s contract, in essence putting him on notice that he lacked the support of the board.

“The whole issue with Ann Geyman has divided the community, and the board reflects that division,” Tracy Caddell said. “It’s disappointing that I’m leaving, but I’m excited about my new opportunity. I really didn’t expect to find a new position in the middle of the school year, but the current superintendent is retiring, and it’s a 2A-size school like Switzerland County and I think it’s a great fit.”

Tracy Caddell, who recently earned his doctorate degree from Ball State University, will also be serving as an adjunct professor for Ball State – where he will be mentoring aspiring administrators.

In an email that he sent to members of the faculty and staff last Thursday morning, the superintendent announced his resignation and reflected on his more than six years as the head of this corporation.

“As superintendent since 2001 it has been my honor and privilege to serve this school and community. I have been truly blessed,” a portion of the email read. “I was not the type of student when I graduated in 1978 that anyone would have expected to be superintendent of schools. But a teacher (Mr. Jessup) changed my life. Further, I know that when I came in 2001 I didn’t leave a good first impression. Quite honestly I didn’t know what I was doing. (Some of you already know that (smile)).

“In my desire to be a good superintendent I stomped around and stepped on some of your toes. To those I have offended I am sincerely sorry. There are a number of emails that I sent early on that I wish I could take back. I also wasn’t the best listener. I hope over time I have stepped on a few less toes and stopped to hear what you were saying.

“This is a bittersweet time for me,” the email continues. “As a Christian I know that as one door begins to close another opens. As I move to central Indiana I am excited about a new challenge and opportunity but sad as I leave home again for a second time.”

In an article announcing Tracy Caddell’s hiring in the “Kokomo Tribune”, Eastern Howard school board members were excited about their newest hire.

“Board member Randy Blankenship said of all the candidates the board interviewed and researched, Caddell most closely met the criteria community and staff members said they wanted their superintendent to have,” the article said. “Board President Mark Lantz said community and staff members wanted someone who would continue Eastern’s academic excellence and not come in and make wholesale changes. They also wanted someone who is personable and who will be out in the schools, not in his office all day.

“Lantz said board members visited Vevay and talked to teachers and others associated with the school and were impressed with what they heard about Caddell. ‘It’s been a couple of months of hard work. We’ve settled on someone who’s going to last a long time’.”

In terms of the process of transition and the search for a new superintendent, the school board will begin to make those decisions once Tracy Caddell’s resignation is officially accepted tonight (Thursday).

Eastern Howard School Corporation is located in Greentown, Indiana, and its high school has been awarded Four-Star designation by the State of Indiana, as has Eastern Elementary School. Greentown is east of Kokomo and southwest of Marion.

In the newspaper article from Kokomo, Mark Lantz said that he feels good about his corporation’s hire.

“He said Caddell comes with many recommendations, and that both of the Switzerland County elementary schools achieved Four Star status while he was superintendent there,” the article concludes. “He’s had tremendous success down there. We just feel he’s going to be a great fit for our community.”