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Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Principal won't return next year

No public discussion on contract action

By Betty Lawrence
COLDWATER - After no public discussion on the matter, school board members on Tuesday voted 4-1 to not renew the contract of high school principal Steve Keller.
Board members held an executive session, and once back in the public meeting, amended the agenda to allow the board to vote on Keller's contract and the contract for athletic director and dean of students Eric Goodwin.
Board member Todd Bills was the only member to vote in favor of keeping Keller and against renewing Goodwin's contract. He also voted against going into executive session and amending the agenda.
Keller's three-year contract expires July 31. His annual salary is $93,444.
Goodwin's three-year contract was approved. His current annual salary is $85,281.
Keller, who was not at the meeting, was hired as high school principal in 2003. Prior to that, he retired as superintendent at Parkway Local School and worked a few years at Gateway Outreach Center.
Nearly 30 people attended the school board's February meeting, some speaking in support of Keller. Others lauded the efforts of the school board and administration.
One resident directly asked board members why they would not renew Keller's contract. The board responded that minimal discussion had been held in executive session and no formal recommendation from the superintendent had been made.
Superintendent Rich Seas said this morning the district will be searching for a new high school principal.
Telephone calls to Keller and Bills were not returned by press time today.
Also at the meeting, board members discussed changes to the upcoming school district report cards.
Schools this year will be given a letter grade, A-F, rather than numerical ratings that determine if a school is excellent with distinction, excellent, effective, on continuous improvement, on academic watch or on academic emergency. The state has called the new rankings "more rigorous," and several school officials have predicted fewer schools will earn top honors.
Coldwater received an excellent on its report card in 2011. Using the 2011 data, the district would earn a B under the new plan, school board members were told.
The district has received excellent ratings each year since the 2005-2006 school year, including an excellent with distinction ranking in 2008-2009.
Paula Byers, superintendent of student services, told board members the Race to the Top program will help prepare the school for ranking changes.
"Everyone has been stepping up to the plate," Byers told the board, noting 21 staff members signed up at a recent Race to the Top meeting to help look at the new ranking system.
"The new system may present some challenges, but also opportunities," Seas said. "Our staff wants to do it and the hardest part may be finding the time. We do so many immeasureable things."
Gifted coordinator Pat Naveau reported Crestview won the third annual Quiz Bowl held March 3 at Coldwater Middle School. She said 18 teams from 11 schools (120 students) participated.
Also at the meeting:
• Board members approved two-day leaves without pay for Paula Schritz and Kendra Chiles.
• Elementary school principal Wade Spencer reported student art projects will be displayed at area businesses.
• Seas lauded the district's athletic achievements, many of which reached the state level and reported the Tri Star Career Compact engineering program is moving to the St. Marys facility. He also recognized the public for passing the new school tax last week.
• Board members accepted German exchange students Maike Flugel and Annabelle Ebbert, who will be at the school March 21-April 20.
• Board members approved the contract with West Central Oho Regional Healthcare Alliance to provide health and wellness services.
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