North Central School Board Supports FFA Request For Graduation Cords

DSC_2520 WEBBy: T.J. Hug
The Village Reporter

On a night in which two board members, the district treasurer, and the school superintendent were unable to attend their regular meeting, what remained of the North Central Board of Education decided to convene on their scheduled date for the month of April regardless.

Jim Lee and Leigh Boothman, both members of the North Central School Board, as well as Treasurer Eric Smeltzer and Superintendent Ken Boyer, had previous commitments that prevented them from making the session. However, Board President Craig McKarns, along with fellow board members Homer Hendricks and Shane Martin moved forward with the agenda anyway, with Junior High and High School Principal Tim Rettig sitting in for Boyer.

The district chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) made a formal request before the board to have some seniors amongst their number wear cords during the school’s graduation ceremony, which would have technically gone against the school’s policy. In fact, the organization has been attempting to go through Rettig to facilitate the initiative for some time, but he remained stone-faced all the while.

“They haven’t been happy with me for about a month.” The principal chuckled. “I do support this, though.”

Rettig explained that it was his hope that the students bring the matter before the board themselves, and therefore chose to keep his opinion to himself.

“I wanted this to stand on its own merit.”

Representing the FFA was chapter secretary Kirby Miller, accompanied by the branch’s adviser, Jessica Tracey. The latter explained how, out of twenty-seven schools within their district, six have FFA seniors wearing the cords. Some of them went through their respective school boards, according to Tracey, while other simply showed up to graduation wearing them.

“We respect you guys enough to go through you,” Miller stepped in, “instead of just doing it.”

The board was quite receptive to the idea.

“I strongly support this.” Voiced Hendricks.

“I think it’s a good thing for our community.” McKarns echoed.

Vowing to work with Superintendent Boyer to amend the policy, the board gave their blessing to the plan. There are a set of requirements put forth by the organization itself, which will determine which seniors will receive the cords. While State Degree winners, of which North Central has five this year, are assured the honor, they will not be the only ones to do so. Eight seniors count themselves as members of the North Central FFA, and seven of them will be wearing cords as they walk across the stage to grab their diplomas.

Another issue addressed by the undersized board was the delayed construction process of the dugouts for the school’s softball field. Initially, it looked as though they would be completed just in time for opening day. However, well into the season, the Lady Eagles are still playing their games in the park across town.

“We feel terrible that it is taking this long.” Admitted Rettig.

There have been a multitude of problems plaguing the project. People have backed out of the construction, severely slowing things down. Even procurring the exact materials has provided its own share of difficulties.

“Finding block layers has been more than a challenge.” The principal confirmed.

Things appear to be taking a turn for the better, though. In roughly a week and a half, the dugouts are expected to be completed. At that point, a representative from the state will inspect them, and presumably sign off on their usage.

A plethora of employments were approved by the board as well. Rettig emphasized one particular hire as a source of excitement, as he singled out new Junior High Math Teacher Gregory Waidelich.

“I think he’s a great pickup for our program.”

A graduate of Pettisville High School, Waidelich is coming to North Central from Pennsylvania, where he acquired a year of teaching experience. Also, the twenty-three year old has the qualifications to become a coach for different athletic teams. Citing a desire to hire and promote coaches from within the district, Rettig considered this just one of many positives from bringing in Waidelich.

“He’ll be an excellent addition to what we already have.” Claimed Rettig.

The remainder of contracts approved by the board, with the exception of Junior High Track Assistant Coach Joe House, were renewals for current school faculty and staff.

Two more hires coming in the near future are retire/rehire candidates Diane Veres and Connie Myers. Due to the fact that both of the teachers are to be hired back into their former positions, a public meeting was legally required to take place, and was held prior to the the board’s April session. The public was given a thirty minute time frame to question the coming decision. Few people commented, and what was asked had more to do with the retire/rehire process in general.

“It’s part of their contract.” Rettig informed.

The option on each teacher’s contract may be exercised by the district if an employee wishes to return to work. Benefits are still received by the retirees, thought they are hired back at a rate for that of having five years experience, rather than the typically astronomical number of years a retired teacher usually has under their belts at the time of retirement.

“This is really saving us a lot of money.” Rettig proclaimed.

He estimated that each retire/rehire faculty member provides roughly $20,000 in savings.

The board adjourned the meeting without seeing the need to enter into Executive Session.

T.J. Hug can be reached at

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