The only principal South Knox Elementary School has ever known will retire at the end of this school year.

Alan Drew has submitted his letter of intent to retire, effective June 30, 2020, and the school board has reluctantly accepted it, superintendent Tim Grove said.

“That will bring a close to a 44-year career in education at South Knox,” said superintendent Tim Grove. “And he's been an administrator for 38 of those years.”

Grove said Drew will leave big shoes to be filled.

“There's no question that he has probably forgotten more about administering than I'll ever know,” he said. “He's been so valuable to me as a mentor.

“He has this natural ability to make you feel — whether it's a teacher, a custodian, a cook, secretary, instructional assistant, it doesn't matter — as though they are a valued person, a team member, a family member even.”

Grove said he does, however, think he'll get a lot of response to the available position; he's posted it to the state Department of Education's website, he said, and gotten one bite, an email, already.

His hope, he said, is to form a search and interview committee as soon as possible and have Drew's replacement hired by the end of the year. That way, Grove said, the hire will have a few months to spend with Drew before he officially retires.

He, himself, did a similar mentorship program, he said, with former South Knox superintendent Brad Case, and he found it to be immensely helpful in getting adjusted to the job.

“I'd like to get somebody in here so they can see all the ins and outs of the job,” he said.

Grove, too, pointed out the elementary school has only ever had one principal — Mr. Drew.

“In the 20 years that school has been there, Mr. Drew is the only one who has served in that capacity,” he said. “It's pretty amazing, when you think about it.”

Also on Tuesday, during the board's regular monthly meeting, the board held a public hearing for its proposed 2020 spending plan. They will likely now approve that budget next month and submit it to the Department of Local Government Finance for approval by the end of the year.

Grove said the $15 million budget represents only a slight increase over this year. He plans to advertise a tax rate of 86 cents, he said, which is 9 cents more than last year.

But as is often the case, the DLGF will likely cut it.

“I anticipate that may go down,” he said, “especially since I think our (assessed valuation) will be higher than what we're advertising.

“I don't think there's anything to be scared of in terms of being really slashed though,” he said. “Our enrollment is good, likely better even than I've advertised in the budget, so that will help a little bit, too.

“I just feel very good about the budget and where we are with it.”

The board also on Tuesday fell in line with other local school corporations in taking some teacher retirement savings and designating them toward teacher pay next year.

State officials this year set aside $150 million to pay for school corporation's share of the Indiana Public Retirement System, thereby allowing school corporations to cut back on their own contributions.

That means an additional $63,892 for South Knox, Grove said, and that will be divvied out, in some way, to teachers.

“We're just adding it to the pool,” he said, adding that official negotiations with teachers will begin next week. “What we are planning to negotiate with the teachers, looking at being able to give them something additional financially, this will just help to offset those costs.”

Grove, too, said anytime the corporation gives teachers a raise, he likes to offer one, too, to hourly employees. This additional money will make that easier next year as well.

He didn't say for sure whether the additional monies would be in the form of a stipend or percentage increase on their annual salaries. The latter, however, is often difficult to do with money that isn't likely to be there again next year.

“When we get new money it's great,” he said. “But I'm not counting on it. It's just a little bit of extra cushion next year.

“It's soft money,” he said, “and I can't say it will be there for years to come.”

The Vincennes Community School Corp. was able to save $146,377, setting it aside for teachers, while the North Knox School Corp. had an extra $52,400.

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