Fayette Local Schools hires Erik Belcher 2012.07.04

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

erik.belcherFayette’s board of education found what it was looking for and hired a new administrator to fill the dual role of superintendent and elementary school principal.

The board met for a special session Thursday morning to hire North Central’s elementary principal Erik Belcher. Belcher emerged as the top choice among a dozen candidates and was signed to a three-year contract with an annual salary of $90,000.

The board also accepted the resignation of superintendent Russ Griggs, effective at the end of July, and then hired him to serve as a consultant for one month to assist with Belcher’s transition. He will be paid $335 for each day that he works.

When Fayette’s former elementary school principal Dr. Luann Boyer announced her retirement in May, Griggs suggested that the board consider hiring someone to fill a dual administrative role since his contract as a part-time superintendent would expire in 2013.

Making the move to Fayette wasn’t an easy decision for Belcher, but he’s convinced he’s making the right choice.

“I love the people here at North Central,” Belcher said, “but I’ve wanted to lead a district and I thought the Fayette position was a good way to grow professionally.”

One thing that appealed to him with the new Fayette arrangement is that he will continue to have direct contact with students.

Belcher grew up in West Unity and attended Adrian College where he played basketball. He served as a third grade teacher for 10 years with the Allen East district in Harrod, Ohio, near Lima, and also taught junior high history there for three years.

He earned a master’s degree from the University of Dayton in 2008 and was hired by the North Central district in Pioneer as the elementary school principal.

He will wrap up his superintendent licensure this summer through the University of Findlay.

Belcher speaks highly of Griggs’s school leadership.

“He does what’s best for kids,” Belcher said, “and it will make my job easier to follow someone like Russ Griggs.”

Griggs, a veteran of 38 years in public education, finished out his career as a part-time superintendent at Fayette. He served as a superintendent for 31 years at various districts and often worked on an interim basis.

The top leadership spot has remained fairly stable in Fulton County over recent years, Griggs said, but this year five of seven districts will have changes.

Griggs was with the Fayette district for four years, arriving when the new building project was half completed.

“A strength of this district is the smooth relations among board members, staff and the community,” he said. 

Tough financial situations often lead to contentious times, he said, but that hasn’t been the case at Fayette. Contracts are in place, there are no audit findings, the special education program was recently approved, and the district is achieving “excellent” ratings through the state testing program.

Belcher will be coming into a stable situation, Griggs said, other than continual financial problems. A millage will be needed in a year or two.

With fewer students and fewer teachers, the new combined position is a good example of shared services, said school treasurer Kelly Bentley. Planning was already underway to reduce the hours for the principal position, and with the combined job, the district will save about $2,000 annually from current costs.

The combined role will be a challenge for Belcher, Griggs said, but staff members are already accustomed to a part-time administrator who isn’t always in the office.

Belcher’s contract begins Aug. 1.

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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