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E. HOLMES DISTRICT -- Embracing an ongoing effort to remain fiscally responsible and employing a practice that has worked well for the district, the district will not be replacing Principal Dan McKey when he retires at the end of the current school year.
McKey has worked for 36 years in the district. He spent the first 18 years as a sixth-grade teacher at Walnut Creek Elementary and has served as principal of Mount Hope and Winesburg for the past 18 years.
Moving into the 2017-18 school year, his job will be divided between Chestnut Ridge Principal J.T. Luneborg, who will also become principal at Mount Hope, and Walnut Creek Principal Darrell Haven, who will also serve as principal at Winesburg.
Luneborg and Haven will take on the additional duties without increasing their own salaries, and the action is expected to save the district nearly $130,000 annually in wages and benefits, according to Treasurer Kellie Lester-Breehl.
The plan emerged as part of "an effort to continually be good financial stewards with the money we're given," said Superintendent Erik Beun, adding, "The split has worked with Mount Hope and Winesburg (with McKey), and we started asking ourselves if we could make it work in other ways."
McKey's two schools were split between Luneborg and Haven by geography, but, other than welcoming new leadership to each building, students will see no effects of the change and all will remain at their current buildings.
"We feel it works and have a lot of confidence in Mr. Luneborg and Mr. Haven they can take it on and be successful in that way," said Beun, noting, "I think they want what's best for the district too."
An enrollment loss of just more than 200 students over the past six years, is a factor the district felt should be reflected in administrative staffing as well, according to Beun, who said, not knowing when McKey might retire, it was a plan they began considering as an option when they hired Haven not quite a year ago.
"I appreciate their willingness and flexibility and initiative to take on additional responsibility in a very positive way. I think their communication and leadership skills will lead them to be very successful," said Beun of Luneborg and Haven.
Elsewhere in the district, Casey Travis, similarly, is principal over the three Valley schools, where the same students attend kindergarten and first grade at Charm Elementary, second-fourth grade at Flat Ridge and fifth-eighth grade at Wise.
"That's a format that (also) works for us," said Beun, noting that with that and McKey's job as a shared principal to Winesburg and Mount Hope, the new plan is "something we feel we can accomplish."
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or email@example.com.