SUNBURY — A new school year brings new students and staff to any district, but Big Walnut Local Schools has seen a lot of new people in important positions come on board recently.

“Hello, Eagle Community! My name is Dr. Nicole Carter, and I will proudly be serving in the role of Principal at Big Walnut High School for the 2023-24 school year,” she said in her welcome message. Carter’s educational credentials include lengthy stints at Reynoldsburg and Canal Winchester, and a doctorate from The Ohio State University. She and her family live in Westerville.

“My passion for relationships, academic success, and growth are all a part of my plan to continue the district’s mission to inspire and guide our students at BWHS,” Carter continued. “As I begin my journey in the Big Walnut School District, my hope is to not only prioritize a strong focus on academic achievement but develop and continue business partnerships that serve the Big Walnut community. With this plan, I will embrace and drive real world experiences that include, but are not limited to, the 21st century competencies that students need for future success. At BWHS, we feel that an Eagle represents Excellence, Acceptance, Growth mindset, Leadership and Effort. In addition, it is important that we nurture and maintain collaborative relationships with all stakeholders to ensure the tradition of excellence at BWHS.”

According to the district, also part of the new administration team are Alan Feeman, assistant food services supervisor; Justin Grieger, assistant principal at Big Walnut Intermediate School; Jim Hall, director of facilities; Paul Hershberger Jr., assistant principal of Big Walnut High School; Geoff Peterfy, communications specialist; Nick Powell, principal at Big Walnut Elementary School; Mike Robertson, director of academic achievement; and Jessica Shelton, principal at the Early Learning Center at Harrison Street.

Ryan McLane welcomed new administrative staff in his Superintendent’s Report to the Big Walnut Board of Education on July 20.

Board member Angela Graziosi thanked McLane and Assistant Superintendent Megan Forman for their “diligence and hard work this summer. We’ve had a lot of personnel changes.”

Board President Doug Crowl said the positions were “filled in record time. … I hope it works as well as it was laid out. Time always tells.”

“Thank you,” McLane said. “You don’t want people to leave, but you don’t want to get caught off guard. We have a short list of people if everyone in this district leaves. With a high school principal position in particular, we weren’t going to just wait on that and see who applied. With the July 10 deadline, we had to be aggressive and use a lot of our connections and resources. I don’t think that’s different than the business world. I think if you want to find the right people you’ve got to go out and find the right people, and I’m really excited about who we’ve got coming. I think we’ve got the right people.”

Also at the board meeting, two people from Genoa Christian Academy were promoted from part-time to full-time, and Graziosi asked why it was on Big Walnut’s agenda.

Treasurer Darren Jenkins explained that “those positions come to this board because they are supported by auxiliary funds — dollars that we get ultimately from the federal government through the Ohio Department of Education through our title monies. The idea is that … there should be money there to support all children not just those in public school but public and private schools that are chartered non-publics. There is a formula by which that funding is generated. It’s very convoluted but ultimately based on the number of students that we have that are eligible for title services, the number of students any private school in our district may have. It also involves poverty rates. Those dollars can be used for various things — textbooks, educational supplies and (personnel) services. Because those monies do not flow directly to the private school but come to us to go to the private school, this board is the employing agency for those two positions. We never see those people, we sponsor them. They are assigned to Genoa Christian in this case.”

Since Genoa Christian is in the Big Walnut district boundaries, BW disburses the funding. “It’s an accounting situation,” Jenkins said.

The board unanimously approved the hour changes.

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at [email protected].