Dr. Matt Vance has been attending Shelbyville Central Schools board meetings since his hiring earlier this year. On Wednesday, the new superintendent of Shelby County’s largest school system “officially” participated in his first meeting.
“I’m basically three weeks in now and it’s been a fast start,” said Vance after the meeting. “It’s one of those things where the way it works, you end one job June 30 and start a new job on July 1. I was hired back in February and it’s been a great transition the last few months because of the time factor.”
Vance (photo, far right), the former superintendent of Rush County Schools, replaced the retiring Mary Harper, who served the Shelbyville school system for nearly four decades.
“I’ve worked a lot with Mrs. Harper and her staff,” said Vance. “It’s been a great transition. It’s like anything else, you go from school district to school district and it might be the same thing, but they do things differently. It’s learning the ropes.
“We have a great staff here. My start has been very enjoyable and very much appreciated.”
For more on Dr. Matt Vance's hiring, go to https://shelbycountypost.com/local-news/619107
With just under two weeks until the start of the 2022-2023 school year, Vance’s first major task is to get staff finalized at each of the school system’s six buildings.
The last point of business for the school board Wednesday night was to allow Vance to hire staff without waiting for board approval since the next scheduled meeting will occur after the school year starts.
“It’s very tough. It is a statewide problem,” agreed Vance of the difficulties of hiring qualified teachers. “I think it’s a national problem. I was in Florida a couple of weeks ago and there was a story about a big school looking for a lot of teachers.”
Vance informed the board there were still seven full-time teaching positions to be filled within the school corporation. According to the school system’s website, Shelbyville Middle School is seeking a language arts, a math and a physical education teacher as well as a math teacher that would split time between the middle school and high school.
Shelbyville High School has a language arts teaching position available and is seeking a counselor. Hendricks Elementary still needs a second grade teacher and Coulston Elementary needs a third grade teacher and a music instructor.
“Our principals have done a great job of getting out and trying to find the best candidates,” continued Vance. “I don’t want to lower expectations of course. You absolutely try to find the best you can but everyone is competing. It really is a game even though it shouldn’t be. I say all the time I am amazed how the number of applicants, and I’m beginning my 28th year, and it’s amazing how over the years the number of (teaching) applicants have gone down.”
Vance expressed confidence to the school board that every effort was being made to have all the positions filled before the first day students arrive on Aug. 3.
“It’s a real concern. I hope it gets better soon,” said Vance. “I think we all need to work to sell the profession but it’s very difficult. We’re not in the best of shape but not in the worst. I don’t know what the next week-and-a-half is going to bring. That’s what makes me nervous.”
The upcoming school year is shaping up as a transitional year for the school system. Not only is there a new superintendent, there will be three new principals.
Amy Dawson was recently hired as Shelbyville High School’s principal. Wes Hall was promoted from assistant principal to principal at Shelbyville Middle School prior to the end of the 2021-2022 school year. And Nichole Terrell was recently hired as Coulston Elementary’s new principal.
For more on Wes Hall becoming SMS principal, go to https://shelbycountypost.com/local-news/635934
“It’s exciting I think,” said Vance. “It’s one of those things where every time you make a change, you know something is going to be different, there will always be changes that some people will like and some wish we did the old way.
“I think the way we will lead is we’re not going to make changes just to make changes. We will lead us to what’s best for our school community and what’s best for our children. That is one thing, we have a committed team of administrators and a committed staff all the way around that are here for the kids. We have a great school corporation here. What can we do to make it better? That is the goal we all have.”