EATON — Preble County Educational Service Center (ESC) Board of Education members and administrators bid farewell to one superintendent and officially moved to hire another during a special meeting Wednesday, July 21.
Superintendent Mike Gray officially stepped down during Wednesday’s meeting. Gray served as superintendent in a part-time capacity for six years, while also serving as superintendent of Darke County ESC.
“It was a pleasure being down here,” Gray said. “The board was great, and that makes a difference. Thank you for the opportunity.”
Board member Peggy Crabtree expressed appreciation for Gray’s years of service.
“We were lucky to have you,” Crabtree said.
Vice President Kevin Johnston expressed even stronger sentiments.
“Mr. Gray came in at a time when we didn’t know if we could stay afloat,” Johnston said. “We didn’t know if we were going to last another month. He’s to be commended for keeping the other superintendents on our side, and working with all of our partners and stakeholders to make us a shining beacon again in Preble County.”
Board President Eric Green also sang Gray’s praises.
“You’ve been our saving grace,” Green said. “We’re losing you at the helm for right now, but we know you’ll be just north of us [in Darke County] if we need anything.”
The board then officially confirmed former Assistant to the Superintendent Shawn Hoff as the ESC’s new superintendent.
“This is a nice promotion for Shawn, and well-deserved,” Green said. “He’s worked hard to get where he is,” to which Gray agreed.
“This guy’s gonna take over, and he’ll do a good job,” Gray said shortly after confirming his own resignation.
In other business
Hoff updated the board on the passage of Ohio House Bill 110, a budget measure affecting the distribution of funds for public education throughout the state, including ESCs.
The bill could net ESCs in Ohio an additional $354,000 in state funding over the next six years, according to Hoff and Treasurer Kerry Borger, with guaranteed funding over the next two years expended to run in the $35-40,000 range. Preble County ESC currently receives about $156,000 in state funding each year, according to Hoff and Borger.
“That’s a huge win for ESCs across the state,” Hoff said. “We’ve consistently seen ESC funding dwindle; this is the first time in the 18 years I’ve been here that we’ve had an increase.”
Hoff told The Register-Herald in January that a COVID-19 Task Force created by Gov. Mike DeWine had been disseminating information to the 51 ESCs in Ohio, which were in turn responsible for communicating with local school districts to assist in scheduling vaccinations.
Hoff credited the role of ESCs during COVID-19 with demonstrating what they’re able to do for their districts to lawmakers throughout Ohio.
“Now not only does our governor see it; the whole state sees it in what we were able to do through this pandemic,” Hoff said.
The Preble County Educational Service Center board meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the ESC Office, located at 597 Hillcrest Dr. in Eaton.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish