Having been awarded $2.8 million in grant funding during 2023, Western Wayne School Corporation is financially more healthy than it has been for several years, according to Superintendent Andy Stover.

Cash balances at the end of 2023 included $954,633 in education, $572,846 in operations, $176,054 in debt service and $1,539,908 in the emergency and rainy day funds.

As a result of having more money on hand, banks paid nearly eight times more interest on Western Wayne’s investments than in 2022, Stover told the school board on Jan. 10. The district’s money earned $136,000 in interest last year, compared to less than $20,000 in 2022. In December, the board voted to send $250,000 in unspent funds to the rainy day fund, saved for contingencies.

“Grant funding has tremendously helped offset (expenses in) our education fund,” Stover said. From fall 2021 through 2023, the district received $2,828,737.25 from grants. They range from $500 to offset expenses of the school resource officers (safety) to a $250,000 grant that allowed Western Wayne Elementary School to hire two counselors.

The district hired Chad Lieberman in late 2021 to lead the district’s grant-seeking efforts. “He’s doing a fantastic job in the world of grants,” Stover said. “Having Chad in this position is tremendous, especially in a rural school our size. His role has allowed me to focus more on educational needs.”

In other business last week, the board conducted its annual organizational meeting, reelecting Alan Austin as president, Sarah Pennington as vice president and Brent Fortman as secretary. The same officers lead the Western Wayne Schools finance board. The board approved retaining A.J. Sickmann as attorney, Peggy Huesman as district financial manager and Robin Hokey, human resources director.

It also approved changes to 20 school policies, mostly responding to changes in state laws.

It approved Stover’s personnel recommendations, as follows.

Certified personnel employment: Scott Ritchey, middle school social studies, weight lifting and alternative school.

Coaching: Jeremy Bane, middle school wrestling coach; Jerry Ingalls, middle school wresting assistant coach; Jeff Gwin, and Jeremy Troutwine, varsity baseball co-head coaches; Brent Dick, baseball assistant coach; and Cameron Gwin, volunteer assistant coach.

Departure: Ben Hogan, elementary school PE instructional aide.

Western Wayne is also embarking on a renovation project at Lincoln Middle School. An invitation to bidders notice is being published now, with an onsite meeting for interested contractors at 3:45 p.m. Jan. 30. Bids are due by 2 p.m. Feb. 9.

The board’s next regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, in LMHS room 33, 215 E. Parkway Drive, Cambridge City. The public may attend.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 17 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.