Farewell Gift

Vermillion School Superintendent Damon Alvey, at left, presents outgoing school board member Tim Schwasinger with a farewell gift shortly before the 2020-2021 board adjourned for the last time. Schwasinger chose not to seek reelection to the board after serving three 3-year terms.

A “changing of the guard” took place at Monday’s Vermillion School Board meeting as the 2020-2021 board adjourned for the final time to be replaced by members of the 2021-2022 school board.

The “new” board includes a new member – Shane Nordyke, who was given the oath of office Monday by Business Manager Kevin Kocer, along with incumbent Rachel Olson. Nordyke and Olson were the top two vote-getters June 8 in a three-person race for two open positions on the board.

Nordyke replaces Tim Schwasinger, who chose not to seek another term on the board.

“I can say that I’ve certainly learned a great deal. I’m sure I would have survived, but I think I’m much better for having gotten good advice over the years from Tim, and it won’t be the same without you,” said Doug Peterson, school board president. “Most of all, I really want to thank for your service to the community of Vermillion and Vermillion public schools.”

“I ditto what Doug said. I’ve learned a lot from you, Tim, and thank you very much for all your service to the school,” said Jim Peterson, school board member.

“You’ve been a good partner to sit by,” said Olson. “I appreciate your patience and your calmness. It’s always needed.”

“I’ll ditto that as well, said board member Carol Voss-Ward. “I appreciate how thoughtful you’ve been and how patient you’ve been in explaining things and thinking through different topics and making sure that we’re thinking about different points of view. I greatly appreciate your service and your guidance.”

Schwasinger noted that the Nordyke will ensure that the school board will continue to serve the district well.

“I appreciate everything that everybody has taught me as well,” he said. “You’ve all heard me talk about this, but be transparent, continue to be transparent and I know sometimes we frustrate administrators or staff. We ask a lot of questions, but it’s not because we don’t believe them, it’s the way we learn. We’re not there in the day-to-day, but want to give the children the best environment they can have.”

Schwasinger said a recent board retreat, he reflected on some of the things he’s most proud of as he’s been part of the Vermillion School Board over the years.

“One of the things that comes to the top is our starting wage scale for our instructional staff,” he said. “When I started on the board nine years ago, we were at $29,100 for base salary. This fall, that base salary is $41,500 and so we’ve done a lot to enable us to recruit instructors and everybody else has moved just as far. We have to keep that up.”

“Nine years is a long tenure for almost anything these days, especially public service because boards and people that serve in organizations are under a lot of pressure and scrutiny at times,” Superintendent Damon Alvey said. “It’s not made for everybody and so to serve three terms is really a special feat.

“As Tim said, during that time there were great improvements with our processes at the district level,” he added. “We’ve made some good process in the way that we do things. Also, with the dollars that we’re using, the committee work that this board goes through behind the scenes is really impressive in terms of putting people in places where their expertise can be used and make good decisions to work towards the good of our students and the patrons of district.”

Alvey said one of the biggest strengths Schwasinger brought to the school board was his ability to reflect on what has been done behind the scenes at committee meetings and then ask questions at the public meetings.

“Many times, things are going on behind the scenes and we get things done and we move forward with them, but sometimes our public doesn’t see or hear about those because they were not in the room at the time,” he said, “so I’ve always appreciated the fact that Tim was stop a meeting or reflect during a meeting to our folks that are sitting in the audience or at home. I think that’s an important attribute that we’ll continue to try to remember as we move forward.”

The superintendent noted that when administrators or board members leave after a certain tenure, they are presented a parting gift by the school board.

“What we try to do is find something that suits the board member that’s leaving and give them a gift that obviously they would look back and reflect on,” Alvey said. “In talking with Tim and his wife, Patty, one of the favorite places for them to be is out on the Missouri River.”

He presented Schwasinger with a framed photograph of Goat Island that also includes text about its history.

“Our board would like to thank you for your years of service and offer this as your parting gift,” Alvey said.

“Thank you very much,” Schwasinger replied.

His last action as a member of the Vermillion School Board was to make a motion for the 2020-2021 board to adjourn.

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