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Fortney to step down from superintendent job

Posted on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 8:06 am

Student recognitions were presented to the Van-Far High School students. Front row Macie Bybee, Brook-lyn Forman, Carman Wilburn.  Middle row, Ashton Dyke, Easton Sharp, Richard Hayden. Back row, Gage Gibson, Evan Utterback, Gavin Gaston, Jackson Fischer. Photo by Natalie Gibson


By Rennie Davis

Superintendent John Fortney told the Van-Far School Board that he would be stepping down from his job leading the school district in seven months.

Fortney thanked the board for working with him during the years of his employment as superintendent at Van-Far R-1. He assured the board that he would continue working hard for the district for the next seven months to make the school district better.

Fortney came to the district in July of 2020, and brought the school system through several challenging situations, including starting the four-day school week and dealing with the pandemic.

Fortney informed the board that the bleacher project is completed, but the contractor still must design and finish the media box and the sound system.

He noted that they are also working on the track, in hopes of having it ready for the three track meets next spring.

The way the grants are specified, he explained, is the track is free and open to the public daily.

In July 2024, Fortney will assume his new job at Kearsarge Regional School District in Sutton, N.H. His current contract with Van-Far R-1 is set to expire June 30, 2024.

A number of students and parents attended the regular meeting of the Van-Far R-1 School board Nov. 16 when Fortney made his announcement.

Board President Justin Hopke called the meeting to order with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer by Dustin Holt. Roll call of the board was read and the board agenda was approved.

High School Principal Natalie Gibson presented student recognition to several students in attendance: Garrett Hopke, state cross country; Brooke-lyn Forman, state cross Country; Gage Gibson, conference football; Nikos Conaway, conference football; Jackson Fischer, conference football; Evan Utterback, conference football; Gaven Gaston, conference football; Easton Sharp, conference football; Lucas Gibson, conference football; Ashton Dyke, police academy; Carmen Wilburn, Norhteast District Young Farmers/Farm Wives; Richard Hayden, all district choir and band; Brooke-lyn Forman, Mexico Ledger; Macie Bybee, Mexico Ledger; Kaitelynn Caldwell, Art SDTM; and Ashlynn Grammar, Art SDTM.

After that, Brian Hummel gave a report about the elementary school.

The school is having contests to see which class has the best attendance for the month. The winning class for October was Mrs. Trower’s kindergarten class with 11 out of 13 days with perfect attendance.

Hummel said they had a Veterans Day assembly on Nov. 10 and a professional development day on Nov. 13.

The kindergarten Thanksgiving Dinner was held Nov. 21. It was also noted that October’s staff members of the month were Alex Zarifis and Alicia Landis, and the October Artist of the Month was Nathan Owens.

Gibson reported that there was 88% attendance at the parent teacher conferences and there was a good crowd at the Veterans Day assembly.

She also noted that they held the Thanksgiving Day feast at noon that day and it was served by the teachers and staff.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol started visiting the school district on occasions. There was 94.5% attendance at the grade school and a 95.2% attendance at the high school.

Bids for used busses and a new bus were presented to the board by Brandon Barnett. The board passed a motion 6 – 1, to buy a new Thomas Built bus for $122,788.

The board accepted a budget revision as presented 7 – 0. It was also announced that that two board positions will be up for election. The filing period has been shortened and runs from 8 a.m., Dec. 5 to 5 p.m. Dec. 26 at the high school office. The seats up for reelection are Pete Nasir and Tony Dameron.

Fortney reported that all students who applied to attend VO-TECH’s second semester were accepted. He also said the district had surplus property to sell—a school bus and a four-wheel drive utility vehicle. The board agreed to list them with Auction Time/County Line with Chad Wallace.

Sealed bids for other surplus items were accepted.

The next meeting will take place Dec. 21.