HCCSC to have new superintendent in place soon

Ken Kline (third from left) was presented a plaque of appreciation by the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of Trustees for his work with the corporation as interim superintendent since January at the board meeting Monday, July 13. Randy Harris is slated to be the new permanent superintendent, and his hiring will be done at the next board meeting. Joining Kline in the photo are (from left) HCCSC board members Rex Baxter and Sarah Kyle and board President Scott Hoffman.
Ken Kline (third from left) was presented a plaque of appreciation by the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of Trustees for his work with the corporation as interim superintendent since January at the board meeting Monday, July 13. Randy Harris is slated to be the new permanent superintendent, and his hiring will be done at the next board meeting. Joining Kline in the photo are (from left) HCCSC board members Rex Baxter and Sarah Kyle and board President Scott Hoffman. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Huntington County Community School Corporation will soon have a new superintendent.

School board members took the first step Monday, July 13, to hire a new chief, approving a contract for the position.

Board President Scott Hoffman confirmed that the new superintendent is expected to be Randy Harris, who previously served as superintendent of Eastern Hancock Community School Corporation.

In a special session held before the regular school board meeting, members voted 5-0 to accept the proposed superintendent’s three-year contract, amounting to an annual package of more than $155,000. Board members Holly Thompson and Matt Roth were absent. No one from the public spoke during the public comment portion of the special session.

Harris’ base annual salary will be $125,000, with perks such as annual teacher retirement fund contributions, 401(a) and 403(b) plan contributions, insurance premiums, use of an automobile and local service club membership dues bringing the total to $154,905.24. In addition, HCCSC will be responsible for the employer share of Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance and Medicare, which would be $9,562.50 for the initial year of the contract.

The contract also gives Harris 20 paid vacation days per school year, in addition to paid holidays, personal leave, family leave and sick leave days.

Harris’ contract will become effective Aug. 1 and continue to July 31, 2018.

He comes from a school corporation that serves around 1,100 students in three schools, based in Charlottesville. Eastern Hancock High School has an enrollment of approximately 355 students in grades 9 through 12.

Another special session will be held on Wednesday, July 22, at 7 p.m. at the Horace Mann Education Center, 2485 Waterworks Rd. At that meeting, public comment will be allowed before the school board votes to accept Harris as the new superintendent. Following the vote, an open house reception will be held at 7:15 p.m. to formally welcome Harris as the county’s new superintendent.

The board recognized Interim Superintendent Ken Kline at his last official school board meeting and thanked him for his service during the corporation’s search for a permanent superintendent, offering praise for his accomplishments.

“It’s been a great transition from where we were to where we’re going to go,” said Board Member Brian Warpup. “I’ve heard nothing but positiveness throughout the community, and from teachers and administration he is very well liked and we just look up to him. I just can’t say enough to say thank you. It’s been a great seven months here.”

Board Member Rex Baxter presented Kline with a plaque in appreciation of his leadership.

“One thing about Ken Kline, if he tells you something, you don’t have to worry about it. It’s the truth,” Baxter said. “I really respect him for that, because in this position, a lot of times you’re not really told the truth or the whole story. When you’re dealing with Mr. Kline, I can tell you that’s never been a problem.”

Tom Gross, representing the Huntington Classroom Teachers’ Association, also extended his gratitude to Kline and his ethic in working with the teachers to work through issues.

“He could have kept the status quo, but instead he listened, worked through challenges, and made the district a better place,” Gross said. “Mr. Kline truly cares about the success of this school district and community.”

Kline called his time at HCCSC a “labor of love,” acknowledging his employment from 1997 to 2008 as principal of Huntington North High School. After retiring as superintendent of Blackford County Schools, he returned to HCCSC as interim superintendent on Jan. 5.

“Coming back here was definitely the highlight of my long career in education,” he said. “I really appreciate the opportunity that this board gave me to get to work with them once again … I’m deeply appreciative.”

The board also acknowledged former boys’ basketball coach Bob Straight, voting 5-0 to name the HNHS basketball court in his honor. It will be known as the “Bob Straight Court.”

First, however, the board voted 5-0 on its second reading to change policy, allowing school facilities to be named for living people rather than only those who have died.

Kline said Straight served as the principal of Huntington North High School from 1967 to 1986. He oversaw the construction of the new high school building in 1970 and the gymnasium and auditorium complex added in 1975. But he will be more known for his leadership as HNHS’ basketball coach.

“Mr. Straight gained fame as one of the most outstanding basketball coaches in Indiana,” Kline said. “His teams at Earl Park, Rensselaer, Hammond, Highland and Huntington high schools won over 70 percent of their games during his tenure as the head basketball coach.”

Overall, Straight’s teams won 286 games during his 17 years as a head basketball coach, with the 1964 Vikings team finishing as state runner-up.

Straight was elected to the Indiana High School Athletic Association Board of Control and Executive Committee from 1976 to 1984, serving as president of the IHSAA Board of Directors from 1980 to 1983. He served as HNHS’ assistant principal and athletic director from 1966-1967 and was the corporation’s assistant superintendent from 1983 to 1986.

He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979, and later served as the president of the IBHOF and as a member of its board of directors.

In other action, the board approved an alternate bid to repair the high school’s roof, due to the repeal of the Common Construction Wage Law, which became effective on July 1.

Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Jon Bennett recommended the board accept the bid from Love Contractors to increase costs by $1,905, which will increase the cover board from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch. Bennett said the change would give the high school a warranty that the roof can withstand winds of up to 120 miles per hour.

Bennett added that the roof construction is on schedule, despite the recent rainy weather conditions.