Lincolnview Superintendent Jeff Snyder poses with Bill Gerdeman, brother of the late Earl Gerdeman. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Lincolnview Superintendent Jeff Snyder poses with Bill Gerdeman, brother of the late Earl Gerdeman. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

MIDDLE POINT – The Lincolnview Board of Education accepted a large donation of $574,494.41 from the Earl Gerdeman Trust during Thursday's regular meeting. The donation is to be used for agricultural, sports, and recreation purposes. Superintendent Jeff Snyder spoke about the generous donation and invited Gerdeman's brother and sister-in-law Bill and Mary Gerdeman to Thursday's meeting.

"This is an incredible gift to our district, the largest gift ever in the history of our district," said Snyder who noted that Earl Gerdeman had a huge impact on him while he was in school. "He cared about not only our school but Van Wert County. That speaks volumes of his character, his commitment to teaching, and how this is going to felt by our community generationally."

"He was a super brother," added Bill Gerdeman. "He and I farmed together. We lived right down the road from each other. He ran Cows and Plows and then my son took that over and he's doing that now. He was quite the guy."

Bill, Snyder, and others present during Thursday's meeting shared stories of their time with Gerdeman.

Gerdeman taught vocational agriculture at Lincolnview for 35 years, impacting students and those around him. Gerdeman died in 2015 but was posthumously inducted into the Van Wert Agriculture Hall of Fame this year during the annual Agriculture Banquet. 

There are no set plans on what to do with the donation as of yet, but Snyder noted that the school will strive to be "good stewards" of what Geredeman left behind for the district.

"To have half a million dollars be given to our school by a teacher that taught here, I don't have any words to express proud I am of our district and especially proud of the Gerdeman family," said Snyder. "He's one of the most outstanding people that touched my life. As a student in his class, I learned so many lessons from him, and I want to give back the same way he gave to me. He left an incredible mark, and we are lucky to have had him as a teacher in our district."

In other business, treasurer Troy Bowersock presented the Five Year Forecast, which the Board later approved. Bowersock noted that revenues look to remain flatlined over the next five years while expenditures look to rise.

"We think at this point in time our expenditures are going to cross over into exceeding our revenues possibly next fiscal year or fiscal year number three," said Bowersock. "That's just something to be mindful of as we move forward."

The Board also heard from Westwood Behavioral Health CEO Mark Spieles on services they will be bringing in to the school. During the meeting, the Board approved a contract with Westwood to provide mental health services to the district. Parents should expect a letter explaining the partnership within the next two weeks. 

The aim is to meet a need for students and make it easier for K-12 students to access mental health services without leaving the school building.

"Our time period is much different than what kids today are dealing with," said Snyder who cited an increase in mental health issues and school shootings in today's society. "Kids know before adults know. We've got to get [them] to stand up, speak up, [and let them know], 'this is your school, not my school.' It's their school." 

A mental health specialist will be available to students within the building. Lincolnview already has a social worker in the building who is able to give students and families resources when they are in need of things like housing and food.

Also during the meeting, the Board recognized the Lady Lancer volleyball team who were crowned NWC champs and recognized Madison Langdon who ran at the Cross Country State Meet.

The Board made the following motions during the meeting:

- Approved the advancement to the "Masters +15" hour payscale for Chelsea Tietje effective with the beginning of the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year.

- Granted a personal service contract as assistant bowling coach to Tyla Mason.

- Granted Nita Meyer a four-year administrative contract as Lincolnview Elementary School Principal for the period Aug. 1, 2020, through July 31, 2024.

The Board then went into executive session for personnel matters concerning the employment and compensation of a public employee and then adjourned.

The next Lincolnview Board of Education meeting is set for Dec. 19 at 6 p.m.