Crothersville hires teacher on 3-2 vote



The hiring of a new third grade teacher at Crothersville Elementary School came down to a decisive vote.

During a special meeting Sunday at the central administration building before the board of trustees’ annual retreat, President Dale Schmelzle entertained a motion to hire Sara Salas to fill the position.

B.J. McLain made the motion, Jaime Land seconded and Linda Luedeman and Tiffany Reynolds both voted no. Schmelzle then voted yes to break the tie, resulting in a 3-2 vote in Salas’ favor.

Luedeman then asked if that was a conflict of interest because Salas is Schmelzle’s niece. Superintendent Terry Goodin, who initially recommended Salas’ hiring, said it’s not.

"He’s not gaining anything personally from it," Goodin said of Schmelzle. "To be a conflict of interest, you have to gain something personal from it."

Before the vote, Luedeman said she didn’t support Salas’ hiring because she doesn’t have an Indiana teaching license to teach elementary.

Goodin, however, clarified that Salas has an emergency permit and doesn’t have a regular teacher’s license.

Schmelzle said Salas planned to take the test Thursday in hopes of receiving the regular teacher’s license.

Goodin said the corporation has hired several teachers with an emergency permit in recent years.

"It’s a concern to me that our elementary was rated so low and they’ve been working on improving and not hire someone who has all of the credentials," Luedeman said.

Reynolds asked if anyone else applied for the position, and Goodin said Principal Drew Markel has the applications and Salas was determined to be the most qualified.

Schmelzle said Salas taught with an emergency permit for Scott County School District 2. According to the Indiana Educator License Lookup on the Indiana Department of Education website, Salas worked at Vienna-Finley Elementary School for two years.

"One of my concerns that we talked about the other day is she has had two years on her emergency permit at her previous school and has been here for a year and has still yet to secure the final licensure," Luedeman said. "I was hoping she had. I would hope that our leadership team would have encouraged her along the way and not wait until this last minute."

Luedeman then asked if the one-year contract includes any terminology stating the corporation expects her to obtain the regular teacher’s license.

"If you want to, that’s something you can ask to do," Goodin said. "The expectation will be there that she gets her regular teacher’s license."

Reynolds asked about Salas’ salary, and Goodin said he didn’t have the base number in front of him but thought it was around $32,000.

Salas replaces Sidney Chumbler, who was hired to teach third grade two days before the 2019-20 school year started.

In another certified personnel matter, the board unanimously approved the hiring of Douglas Ballinger as the junior-senior high school principal. The two-year contract includes an annual salary of $87,000 and $5,000 for 403(b). His contract, which starts Saturday and expires June 30, 2022, is for 240 days each year and includes 10 vacation days a year.

Also unanimously approved were the resignations of Chumbler and Jeanette Yoder, who was a Spanish and special education teacher, and the retirement of Sandy Cottingham, who worked in the cafeteria. 

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