Big Walnut officials excited about upcoming school year


SUNBURY — Ryan McLane officially made his debut as Big Walnut Local Schools superintendent at the Board of Education (BOE) meeting on July 21.

“It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me with the transition,” he said during his report. “I’m appreciative to everyone that’s helped me and all the conversations I’ve been able to have, and we’ve got a busy agenda. We’ve had some unfortunate departures, but I’m also excited about the talent we were able to bring in.”

Those departures include the resignations of Assistant Superintendent Mark Cooper and co-Director of Academic Achievement Kate Thoma, both effective July 31.

“I’d just like to recognize Mark,” McLane said. “We worked together when I first came to Big Walnut (McLane was formerly principal at Big Walnut Intermediate). Mark served this district for 10 years as principal at Big Walnut Elementary and also as assistant superintendent. He has filled in as the acting superintendent the past couple of months. I’ve known him for quite some time and appreciate all of his work, especially the past few weeks during my transition. He’s been nothing but helpful and doing his best to set me up for success.”

“He’s done a lot for our community and the kids in our district,” board member Sherri Dorsch said of Cooper.

Thoma, who was previously principal at General Rosecrans Elementary, was also praised by McLane and the board.

The board members welcomed McLane back to the district and thanked him for his open-door policy.

“Welcome aboard, Ryan,” said BOE President Doug Crowl. “I found communication to be completely up-to-speed.”

“I feel very positive about our upcoming school year,” said board member Angela Graziosi.

Big Walnut High School (BWHS) track athlete Alec Carr was recognized by the board for his accomplishments. A record-setting hurdler, Carr is an Iowa State commit.

Outgoing Treasurer Jeremy Buskirk discussed the fiscal year end with the June report. “Not a whole lot happens in June, at least revenue-wise,” he said. He did note that the casino revenue came in a little higher.

The district’s goal is to “Demonstrate Financial Responsibility.”

A member of the public lamented that substitute teachers in the district are paid only $100 a day, which she said was lower than other districts in the area.

In business items, the board approved a then-and-now for backordered equipment; accepted cooperative bids for school bus chassis and bodies (the district has 48-50 buses, and they are being replaced with propane-powered buses); contracted transportation services for 10 students with different needs; the 2022-2023 student/parent handbooks for Preschool-Grade 6, Middle School 7-8, High School 9-12 (McLane said there were not significant changes); and the annual agreement to assign a Delaware County deputy sheriff as a school resource officer.

The board approved two-year contracts for Assistant Superintendent Megan Forman (a former district principal) at $115,000 annually, and new Director of Administrative Services Tim Wagner at $98,000 annually (replacing the retiring Ron McClure). Big Walnut graduate and collegiate player Carey Largent was hired as the new BWHS girls head basketball coach. Three new positions were added.

A special board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on July 28, with the next regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18.


By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

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