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HNS Board hires two new teachers

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HARTINGTON — Two new teachers will be joining the Hartington-Newcastle staff next school year.

The Harington-Newcastle School Board approved contracts for elementary school teachers Tylor Fincher and Kelsey Fincher. The husband and wife duo currently teach at Southern Valley. 

Kelsey Fincher is a Coleridge native, while Tylor Fincher is a Wausa native. 

For the past several years, he has been the head coach of the Southern Valley boys basketball team. Fincher’s team made it to this year’s Class D1 State Championship game, but ended up losing to Laurel-Concord-Coleridge in the title game.

Monday’s meeting marked the first time the local board had ever met electronically.

Supt. A.J. Johnson and Board members Candice Climer, Jason Dendinger, Ian Lange and Dana Rosener all attended the meeting in person, while Board members Jason Heikes and Aaron Fuelberth attended the meeting by using the Zoom computer program to connect with the Board room and the other members. Principals Corey Uldrich and Sara Edwards also used Zoom to take part in the meeting.

The meeting, which is usually held in the Consumer Science Room, was moved to the Commons area instead, giving participants ample room to spread out as each participant sat at a different table. 

Information technology instructor Cody Stappert also attended the meeting to make sure all the technology worked correctly. He had a large television monitor set up so everyone could see the Zoom participants. A microphone and speaker system was also used, so off-site participants could be heard and would be able to hear discussion among on-site participants.

Supt. Johnson said he encouraged people to attend by Zoom. He contacted the teachers that usually attend the meeting as spectators to make sure they had the proper web page link to access the Zoom feed. Anyone else that wanted to view the meeting could also access that feed, which could be found on the school’s website.

“We can’t restrict how many people come to the meetings, so we wanted to make sure we have as few of our people here as possible to maintain a safe environment for everyone,” Johnson said.

During Monday’s proceedings, the Board unanimously approved contracts for the Finchers to teach elementary school here. The exact grade level they will be teaching in has not yet been determined, though, Johnson said. 

The school district is in need of one new teacher to replace Renae Pfister, who announced earlier this year she would be retiring after teaching for many years as the kindergarten teacher at Newcastle. Another elementary school teacher is being added because the school needs to break another class into two sections, Johnson said. 

The incoming kindergarten class is expected to have 34 students in it. That is just too many students for one class, he said.

By splitting the kindergarten class, HNS will now have four different grades with more than one teacher.

Board members were also told Monday that work on the new vo-ag building is progressing well. The brick work on the exterior of the building has been completed. Interior work is now underway, Johnson told Board members.

The Board also decided Monday to refund parents of preschool students for any payments they made for the fourth quarter since pre-school has been shut down for the year.

Board members set their next meeting for May 11, at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will once again follow this format, which allows for social distancing among board members and audience members and will once again be available through Zoom on the school website.