Non-renewal of contract protested at WB meeting

BELOIT- A small group of visitors were angered by the West Branch school board’s decision to non-renew a high school teacher’s contract Thursday night.

The board elected to not grant a continuing contract to high school English teacher Tracie McFerren, ending the teacher’s tenure at the district at the end of the school year, after one group member claimed that the community wanted the teacher to remain and implored the board to renew her contract. Mikki Kanagy cast the only dissenting vote.

Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Weingart said after the meeting that McFerren has qualified for a continuing contract and by law must be non-renewed before the end of April to avoid an automatic renewal. For the past two years she has been working on an extended limited contract, which essentially served as an extended evaluation, he said. McFerren has been with the district for five years.

Weingart said the district has a process in evaluating teachers and granting continuing contracts, and that the process was followed for McFerren.

In other personnel matters the board granted continuing teaching contracts to Stacey Patterson, Knox Elementary third-grade; Elizabeth Crawford, elementary guidance counselor; Rachael Basalla, middle school math; Erica Polinori, high school Spanish; Gayla Bock, high school business; and Laurie Crisan, high school Spanish.

The board also hired for the remainder of the school year Barbara Cackovic as an aide, effective April 8; Tiffany Keinath as an aide; Matt Thomas as a home instructor on an as needed basis; and Janet Chumney and Kimberlee Sands as classified substitutes.

The board also accepted the retirements at the end of the school year of Bonnie Riddle as Knox Elementary secretary, with the district 32 years; Maureen Zimmerman as Knox Elementary library aide, 11 years; Lynn Taylor as middle school secretary/cashier, 30 years; and Bonnie Rice as Knox Elementary cashier.

Additionally the board approved compensation for Christa Harris for additional choreography for “Hello, Dolly” funded by the choral boosters and Lindsey Szymanski, Roger Kitzmiller and Aaron Walker $15 per hour for Building Leadership Team meetings.

Kevin Howell can be reached at