THREE OAKS — The River Valley Board of Education welcomed new Superintendent Dr. Steven Disney to his first school board meeting on Oct. 25 while also thanking interim Superintendent Dr. Andrea van Der Laan for her leadership for the last few months.
“I just want everyone to know that I’m honored to be here and to serve as River Valley Schools superintendent,” Disney said. “I finished my first week last week, and just the warm welcome in both elementary schools and (from) staff, parents, community members, the board. Hopefully that honeymoon will go for a long time.”
He said a community meeting was held with people from the Three Oaks and Chikaming elementaries which he called “a good start.”
“We’re only as good as what we all are together. We’re here for one reason … It’s all about the kids and it takes all of us.”
van Der Laan, who served as the district’s interim superintendent beginning in mid June after Douglas Scott Bojanich announced his retirement, was praised by Disney and members of the Board of Education.
“Andrea has served this district outstandingly during this time period,” Disney said. “She’s been terrific to me during my transition … I feel very fortunate that you had someone like Andrea to lead the district.”
Board of Education President David Whitlow said van Der Laan came in and “ran the ship with grace and kindness and thoroughness.”
“She was what we needed when we needed it, she was incredible,” said board member Gail Freehling.
van Der Laan noted that she has “become a Mustang” before thanking members of the board for their support and communication. She also noted that she knew Business Manager Brian Brown from her time as Buchanan superintendent.
“So I walked through the door and said ‘Hey, let’s go!’ – we worked right away as a team.”
van Der Laan also praised Elementary Principal Patrick Zuccala and Middle/High School Principal Ryan Portenga for their help with filling out forms and dealing with the School Messenger program.
In other Oct. 25 business, the River Valley Board of Education:
• Accepted the “clean” District Audit Report for 2020-21 after some of its highlights were presented by Alex Schaeffer of Kruggel Kruggel Lawton & Company, LLC. These included: Total revenues as of June 30, 2021, of $10,310.417, expenditures/transfers of $9,735,000, and a fund equity balance that could cover several months of operation: the district spent over $750,000 in federal funds (a total of $923,000) during the fiscal year, which required additional audits.
• Were told by Assistant Middle High School Principal/Athletic Director Charles Richards that the cross country course has been re-routed to hopefully host a regional competition in two years. He also reported that 24 middle school boys have gone out for basketball.
• Approved a Draft Budget Projection for 2022-23 which predicts revenues of $10,104,000 and expenditures of $10,302,000.
• OK’d a transfer of $1 million from the General Fund to the Facility Improvement Fund to fund projects in the coming year.
• Approved hiring the following – long-term substitutes Amber Bergman and Tonya Paveza; van driver Carie Jo Gore: and Middle School football coach Zachary Fredrickson.
• Agreed to retract a letter of resignation from bus driver Penny Sanders.
• Accepted a snow removal quote for 2021-22 from Oldenburg & Sons Excavating, Inc.