(Posted May 11, 2022)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
A familiar, yet new-to-the-position face will greet West Jefferson middle school and high school students in August as Assistant Principal Matt Adams assumes the principal role from Mike Bute.
On May 9, the school board approved a 230-day contract with Adams who started working for the district as a permanent substitute teacher in 2002.
“I’m from a small-sized school, and I like the small school size,” said Adams. “I got to know Mr. (David) Metz and Mr. (Sean) Buescher very well and all of the people here. It’s a great place to be.
“Although I’m familiar with the schools, in my first year as principal I need to get the lay of the land. I’d love to see the community get back into engaging with our schools after going through the COVID pandemic.”
Adams was appointed as assistant principal in 2021. Prior to that, he served as a technology intervention specialist for grades K-12, integrating technology into classrooms, administering local and state testing, and helping to implement technology such as virtual reality headsets.
His tenure in the Jefferson Local School District also has included roles as athletic director for the middle and high school from 2014 to 2017, an American History teacher from 2008 to 2015, and a varsity football coach from 2002 through 2021.
In addition to a regular salary of $98,000, the board approved a maximum of 10 days of extended service for Adams at his daily pay rate prior to Aug. 1.
Other board action included approval of the district’s May 2022 five-year financial forecast update presented by Treasurer Mark Ingles, whose contract was approved by the board through July 31, 2026.
In addition to Ingles’s contract, the board approved a 2.75 percent base pay increase for Superintendent William Mullett for the 2022-23 school year.
Ingles said the five-year forecast provides the opportunity to engage the board and the community in long-range planning and is a vehicle for discussions of financial issues facing the district.
“It is a snapshot of where we are today,” he said. “It allows us to identify challenges before they arise and allows us to be proactive.”
The district is spending less than it is taking in, but that situation could change if a levy that has been on the books for more than 40 years is not renewed later this year. In Fiscal Year 2022, the state is providing 32 percent of Jefferson Local’s revenue; the remainder primarily comes from local sources, including property and income taxes.
“New industry construction resulted in higher than anticipated tax revenue for February 2022,” Ingles said, adding that school district income tax receipts were also higher than forecasted.
“We are well on pace to have an operational surplus, which we haven’t had in years.”
Before Ingles was hired, district finances were designated pre-cautionary. If the levy is not renewed, the district could return to a deficit spending situation.
When turning to the expenditure side of the forecast, Ingles emphasized that personnel costs constitute the vast majority of expenditures, with wages eating up 58 percent of the pie and benefits another 26 percent.
A 2.75 percent base salary increase was approved for staff per bargaining agreements for 2022 and 2023. A 2 percent increase was approved for Fiscal Year 2024 and a 1 percent increase the following year.
Diesel fuel costs for transportation are having a big impact on finances, but a $45,000-per-bus state grant will help the district in covering half the cost for three buses in the upcoming fiscal year.
Mullett said the campaign to renew the levy, which expires at the end of 2023, is starting and he hopes voters will support it again when they go to the polls in November.
“This is a renewal,” he emphasized. “There will be no new taxes, but it will allow us to capture new growth.”