Superintendent Vicki Brunn gives her report during Wednesday's Van Wert Board of Education Meeting. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Superintendent Vicki Brunn gives her report during Wednesday's Van Wert Board of Education Meeting. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – During Van Wert's first Board of Education meeting of the new year, Board members approved a resignation at the end of the school year due to retirement from Superintendent Vicki Brunn. Brunn is in her second year as Van Wert City Schools Superintendent.

Brunn admitted that she had not planned to retire so soon, but after the recent death of her mother, she decided that she wanted to be closer to her two children and four grandchildren, who all reside in southern California. She noted that she no longer has family in the area and wants to be closer to her family, especially while her grandchildren are at a young age.

"It's been an honor and privilege to be the Superintendent here," said Brunn who stated that the staff is exceptional and that she's enjoyed working with a Board like Van Wert's. "I've loved this district; I've loved every minute here."

Anthony Adams, who was elected Board President earlier in the meeting, explained that Brunn will be missed and that she brought leadership to the district when they were in need. Three years ago, Van Wert was left without a Superintendent. When applicants at the time didn't work out, retired Vantage Superintendent Staci Kaufman stepped up to fill in until Van Wert could find the right candidate. Around a year later, Van Wert found Brunn.

"The stars aligned that we did not find the right person at the time that we initially wanted, but we found the right person for a district that, at the time then, was craving strong leadership and a direction to make sure that we go in the right direction," said Adams. "She (Brunn) provided that."

"We certainly understand her reasoning for leaving but it doesn't make it any easier on this district," continued Adams. "I'm confident we will find another fabulous superintendent, but no one will certainly replace Vicki Brunn."

Brunn said that in her retirement in California she plans to be an administrative substitute. She also noted that she shows and raises Havanese dogs, some of which have qualified for the Westminster Dog Show. She has never been able to attend, but retirement will allow her to do so if her dogs qualify again.

Brunn's retirement will be effective on July 31, 2020.

Also during the meeting, the Board approved a resolution to oppose the State of Ohio EdChoice Scholarship (Voucher) Progam. Brunn explained that, if passed, the bill would hurt state funding given to schools.

"[If] a student that was never even enrolled in Van Wert City Schools applied for the state voucher, that money would be subtracted from [us] even if we never even had that student," noted Brunn.

The EdChoice program gives scholarship money to low-income students or students who attend an "under-performing" district so that those students can attend a private school. "Under-performing" districts are determined by the annual State Report Card.

Brunn noted that with the provisions in the emerging program, schools with low Report Card grades could become EdChoice eligible if they have one grade on their Report Card that is a D or an F. Superintendents have come together to demand that the State alter the qualification to two grades of a D or an F, citing that the Report Cards have unfair grading standards in the first place.

The EdChoice program is set to go into effect on Feb. 1, 2020. Van Wert Elementary School is the only school in the district on the list of eligible EdChoice schools in Van Wert County.

Brunn and other superintendents have asked Senator Rob McColley to meet with them, but his aide told them that he couldn't meet until after Feb. 1, 2020 – after the program was already in effect.

"To me, [it] is outrageous that he's not even willing to sit down and talk to us until after it is too late," said Brunn who noted that they have been in contact with other leaders in the state. "We're not going to stop talking about this until something happens because it's unfair."

In other business, the Board made the following motions:

- Tabled a motion to approve the NPAC Annex Addition Project until they received further information

- Accepted the resignation of Gregg Scheidt, high school custodial/maintenance worker, effective Jan. 8 and then approved Scheidt as the assistant to the director of maintenance effective Jan. 9

- Approved a list of spring sports coaches

- Recognized Frankie Bowen for his advancement on the pay scale from Master to Masters+15 due to additional college coursework

- Approved a number of charitable donations 

The Board also heard from High School Principal Bob Priest who presented Athletic Director Trent Temple with a Certified Athletic Administrator certificate. Temple is the first at VWCS to become a Certified Athletic Administrator.

Prior to Wednesday's regular meeting, the organizational meeting was held where Adams was elected Board President and Scott Mull was elected Board Vice President.

The Board set the regular monthly meetings to be held on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 5 p.m. in the First Federal Lecture Hall.

With no further business, the Board motioned to go into executive session and then adjourned. The next regular Board meeting will be held on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m.