By Barry Dalton
VANDALIA—Van-Far R-I School Superintendent John Fortney said the district plans to begin classes on Aug. 25 unless something changes, such as new guidelines from the state.
“Aug. 25—that’s the plan we have in place, and so we need to make sure that we’re ready for the kids and staff to return,” Fortney said. “For us that also means making sure that our construction projects are moving along.”
Fortney participated in a workshop with the school board during his first week to make sure he was on the right track as he began his leadership of the district school system.
“We have a great staff,” he said. “And we have a massively supportive school board. We had a workshop last night, and walking out of that meeting, I was more fired up than the day they offered me the job. We’re getting there and we’re going to keep expanding.”
Before school starts, the district plans to have the elementary school parking lot and the upgrades to the high school rest rooms and locker rooms completed. Upgrades to the district’s athletic fields will not begin until later in the school year.
“I see myself as the bulldozer,” said Fortney, referring to his general leadership style not just to construction projects. “I clear the road so other people can do what they need to do unhindered.”
As far as the reopening of schools this fall, Fortney said the district is trying to determine the best route with an emphasis on taking care of students and staff. Fortney added that he welcomes community input and that the district will be communicating more about its reopening plan in the coming weeks.
“Our decisions will prioritize student and staff safety, taking into account the best ways to educate students,” Fortney said.