New hires in Fort Frye district

BEVERLY – The Fort Frye Local Board of Education on Thursday approved the hiring of a new treasurer for the district and a principal for Lowell and Salem-Liberty Elementary schools.

Both hires were made on 4-0 votes, with board member Lisa Perry absent, at the board’s regular meeting in the Beverly-Center Elementary cafeteria.

Stacy Bolden, a 30-year-old Little Hocking resident, was given a two-year contract to become the district’s treasurer. She will take the place of Melcie Wells, who has served as treasurer for both Fort Frye and Warren Local Schools since January 2012, on Nov. 18.

“I love being in the school system, a genuine love for children and finance,” said Bolden, who has worked for a little more than two years as treasurer and fiscal software coordinator for the Southeastern Ohio Voluntary Education Cooperative, an information technology center serving districts in eight counties, including Fort Frye.

Bolden has also been a substitute teacher, aide and office worker in the Warren Local school district. She worked with Fort Frye Superintendent Stephanie Starcher when Starcher was principal at Barlow-Vincent Elementary School and Warren was trying to pass a bond issue.

“She’s very proactive and expects the best,” Bolden said. “We have the same goals for the district.”

Wells is returning to work full-time for Warren, but will be available to assist Bolden with the transition on a consultant contract that will pay her $173.08 a day, her current rate of pay from the district, on an as-needed basis through the end of the year.

“You’ve got some big shoes to fill,” board Vice President Charlie Schilling told Bolden.

Board President Johnna Zalmanek said she was confident Bolden could do the job.

The next hire was Krista Ross, currently a fifth-grade teacher at Beverly-Center, as principal of both Lowell and Salem-Liberty. That job opened at the end of September with the resignation of Lee Petty after three years.

Ross was approved for a two-year contract with a base salary of $56,228 a year and a supplemental contract, since she’s overseeing two buildings, of $5,623.

“We’re excited to have you, but I know a lot of parents are sorry to see you leave the classroom,” Schilling said.

Ross has worked at Beverly-Center for four years, teaching first, fourth and fifth grades in the Belpre City and Crooksville Exempted Village school districts before that.

“It’s always been a lifelong goal” to be a principal, Ross said. “I love (the) Fort Frye district. I’m very excited about the opportunity.”

Ross takes the reins on Oct. 28, and the district plans to hire a long-term substitute to take her class for the rest of the year.

Bolden and Ross are the latest new additions to the district leadership. Starcher came on in August and assisted in the hiring of curriculum director and special education coordinator Micah Westerman before that.

“I think they are going to be excellent additions to the administrative team,” Starcher said of Ross and Bolden. “Their enthusiasm and forward-thinking will fit nicely with the team we’re assembling.”

With Wells out of town working on a Straight A Fund grant application with representatives of a number of other districts in the region, Bolden was called upon to present the district’s five-year forecast.

The forecast, required to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education each October and updated each May, shows Fort Frye with positive cash balances through the end of fiscal year 2018. The district goes from $2,326,860 this year to a peak of $5,021,494 as the expiration of a tax abatement for the Duke Energy plant and the closure of AEP Ohio’s Muskingum River Power Plant coincide. Cash balances are projected to decline to $4,116,537 by fiscal year 2018.

Duke’s payments to the district as part of the abatement were deposited primarily in the permanent improvement fund over the years, but as the company begins paying property taxes the money will go into the general fund, Bolden said. That means money for things like buses, building improvements and textbooks will have to come more and more from the general fund.

“We need to be conservative with our budget,” Schilling said.

The district has done well in recent years saving money, which Schilling attributed to reducing staff through attrition and spending consistently and efficiently. Board member Kevin Worthington credited the leadership of Zalmanek, Wells, Starcher and her predecessor Tom Gibbs with putting the district on solid financial ground.