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Nance announces resignation

Will leave position in July after contract ends

The Ironton school board formally accepted the resignation of superintendent Dean Nance at a meeting on Monday.

Nance, who has served in the position since 2003, will remain as superintendent until his contract ends on July 31, then will return to teaching in the coming school year.

He and the board had reached a “conceptual agreement” at a meeting earlier this month that he might step down.

“I accepted the board’s offer to go back into the classroom and teach math or the sciences,” Nance said in his prepared statement. “My passion through college was to teach students.

Opportunities were made available to me during my career to lead, and my leadership instincts and competitive nature took precedent over my love of teaching.”

Nance looked back on his time in the position.

“I have enjoyed my years as leader of the entire district,” he said. “However, I am willing to focus my efforts on helping students in the classroom. When I started as superintendent of Ironton City Schools in 2003, the general fund balance was -$785,000. I was blessed with the opportunity to work with Patty Wade, treasurer, and Bill Dressel, federal programs director, to repair the district’s financial solvency.”

Nance also cited construction projects, which he said were completed under budget and “provided our students with state-of-the-art facilities” and cited leadership awards the schools has earned under his tenure.

“I feel fortunate to have been at the helm during the renovation of Tanks Stadium and the turf field, construction of new baseball/softball facilities, installation of the wood gym floor and new bleachers in the Conley Center, and refurbishment of the community track,” he said. “I have enjoyed my time as superintendent.”

Monday’s board meeting drew a large crowd, many of whom signed up to speak during the public comment period of the night, which took place before the announcement of Nance’s future.

One of those speaking was Eric Barnes, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Ironton.

“I’m not here to see anyone hired or fired,” he said, citing his long involvement with the schools.

However, he said though he had no doubts of the commitment of those working in the schools “things must change across the board.”

“Our kids should not be controlled by state testing,” he said, stating that students were being asked to diagram sentences before learning to read and that science was being taught before such fundamentals.

Barnes said he would give the advice he would give his congregation, if his church were facing similar issues.

“Don’t let your love for me hinder you,” he said he would tell them.

Many of those speaking cited what they felt was the poor state of the athletic program, and several student athletes took the microphone.

“We’re being cheated and not being given the best opportunity,” Tyler Malone said. “Too many coaches play favorites. Everything is being taken away.”

Malone said he did not feel athletics at the school were living up to the school’s motto of “community pride” and took issue with personnel changes in the program.

“Getting rid of Coach Red (Burcham) and the staff? That was dumb,” he said. “I learned a lot from him and he taught us to stand up to do what was right.”

Another who attended was Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson, who said he was there to speak, unofficially, on behalf of coaches and teachers.

He said the coaches were dedicated to the school and called on the board to work with them to address problems.

“If there’s an issue, let’s solve it,” he said. “As a board, bring them in, talk to them and correct the problem.”

Anderson said “doing nothing” was unacceptable.

“Terminating one or all of the coaches isn’t the answer,” he said.

The board also heard from Betty Smith, who said she was there because she had heard the board was going to subcontract and outsource school jobs.

Board president Tim Johnson assured her this was not the case.

“It is a rumor and a lie,” he said of the topic. “We are not outsourcing jobs.”

Following the public comment period, the board went into a lengthy executive session, to discuss Nance’s situation before making the news public.

In other business, the board:

• Approved minutes from the last meeting, as well as a financial report.

• Heard a presentation from Shawn Koster, who is seeking board approval for a booster group to raise money to install handicapped equipment at Beechwood Park.

• Koster said his group would have 501(c)(3) status by the end of the week and presented the board with a poster showing plans for the park.

Johnson asked Koster if the matter could be tabled until February, when the status of the group would be in order, to which he agreed.

Johnson said the board would possibly vote on the matter at the next meeting and expressed his support for the park plans.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the school district,” he said.