STANTON — Amy Meinhardt currently serves as special education coordinator and technology curriculum coordinator of Central Montcalm Public School.
She is taking on another role after the school board unanimously voted Thursday to name her principal of Central Montcalm Elementary School in Sheridan.
“I have had a lot of sleepless nights with this position and with the financial picture, we’ve had do to some creative thinking,” said Superintendent Kristi Teall.
The board first had to agree to a non-renewal of an employment contract of David McLouglin, who served one year as principal of the former Sheridan Elementary School. McLouglin was laid off at the end of last year. The board chose to have John Kearney fill the role as principal, one of many hats he wore to serve the district, according to Teall.
Kearney also served in the athletic director position and as director of the adult and community education programs. He is retiring at the end of this year, so the elementary school’s top position will once again be empty.
“With Amy’s other responsibilities, there is no way she could possibly be in the building five days a week,” Teall said. “When I met with the staff, they requested having someone who could be there every day.”
Teall proposed to the five board members in attendance that the district contract with the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District to hire Marty Combs, who currently serves as the MAISD special education supervisor, as administrative support to assist Meinhardt.
“The two have a vast array of knowledge, are known among the staff, think a lot alike and it would be a unique collaboration,” Teall noted.
Combs would re-locate his office and possibly some of his staff to the school building in Sheridan. He would be offered an annual contract of $62,000 from the Central Montcalm district.
“To hire a new, young person to fill the principal position would cost the district between $105,000 and $110,000 with salary, benefits, retirement,” Teall said. “This would be a $40,000 to $50,000 savings.”
After some questions from the school board, the members agreed to the proposal.
“I know it will be a lot, and all my roles are important,” Meinhardt said. “But in all my jobs I will prioritize what is most important in each role I serve and do those priorities. I know it is going to be difficult, but believe the teachers should have in their classrooms the smallest number of students possible, and this prevents a teacher layoff. Honestly, I don’t know how I am going to get it all done. But if I didn’t think I could do it, and not do it well, I wouldn’t take it on.”
Kearney’s absence also led to an empty slot as director of the adult education program, leading the board to agree to discontinue administrating the countywide program last week. Although Carson City-Crystal Area Schools has opted to pick up the program, four Central Montcalm employees were laid off.
“We hope the Carson City-Crystal district will consider re-hiring them, but Central Montcalm just does not have the personnel to keep the program,” Teall said.
Trall is predicting a loss of 30 students in the incoming year, taking a hit to financial benefits received through per pupil funding.
“We have three teachers who are retiring whose positions will not be replaced,” Teall said. “We are doing what we can to keep the cuts out of the classrooms.”