Nate Andrews traveled nearly 90 minutes to Decatur on Tuesday evening, along with his wife and young daughter, to meet his prospective new employers and to witness his official hiring as Bellmont High School's new head football coach.
He left Decatur some two hours later, visibly upset after the North Adams school board — in a deeply divided 3-2 vote — barely approved his employment.
Board president Michelle Stimpson and member Deb Bergman cast the votes against hiring Andrews. Prior to the vote, Stimpson said she was dismayed that a recent story in the Decatur Daily Democrat basically had announced Andrews as the school's new grid coach. "I won't be a rubber stamp" for decisions made by school officials, she said.
Bergman questioned Andrews' teaching credentials, as well as the way the job opening was posted and ultimately filled by school administrators.
In addition to his head coaching duties, Andrews was hired to teach U.S. history and physical education. Bergman asked Superintendent Wylie Sirk if Andrews had the proper state certification to teach the history course. Sirk said he did not currently have that certification, but was in the process of obtaining it. The superintendent said other teachers in the school district are in a similar position when it comes to obtaining necessary licensing.
Andrews has been the head coach at Lapel for the past four years and has compiled a 25-20 record. In 2008, Andrews guided Lapel to a 1A Sectional title, just the second one in school history. He played four years of football at Ball State after an All-State career at NorthWood High School. Andrews was also the wrestling coach at Lapel.
Bellmont High School Principal Scot Croner previously had told the Democrat that he checked out Andrews' credentials carefully and said respondents were positive about his performance, approach and demeanor.
Following Tuesday's board meeting, after Andrews had departed, Croner was asked if the school still had a football coach. "No comment," the principal replied.
Also hired by the school board on Tuesday, all in 5-0 votes, were Angie Johnson and Megan Corrigan as high school Credit Recovery instructors, Daniel Boocher as high school economics, geography and sociology teacher, Annita Boocher as high school English teacher, Karrie Hamilton as middle school literacy coach, and John Baker as varsity boys basketball head coach.
Approved as a volunteer for the middle school girls soccer program was Tim Berry.
Resignations accepted included Janelle Rhoades as freshman assistant volleyball coach, Seth Colclasure as freshman boys basketball assistant, Matt Converset as high school girls basketball assistant, and Tory Fuelling as girls varsity basketball coach.
ELDER ADDED TO
NORTH ADAMS BOARD
Don Elder, a retired teacher and administrator, was selected from among four applicants on Tuesday evening to fill a pending vacancy on the North Adams school board.
Elder will fill the seat currently held by Juan Gutierrez. That board seat is often called the "swing" seat because its representation alternates every four years between residents of the city of Decatur and rural residents. Gutierrez was not eligible to retain the seat. His term expires on June 30.
Other candidates for the board seat included Jane Drummer, Betsy Ritter and Sharon Welch.
Board member Tim Ehlerding recommended Elder's selection to fill the pending vacancy, stating that while all four applicants were well-qualified, "I like the idea of having a teacher's perspective on the board."
Board member Ben Faurote recommended that Welch be approved as the newest board member, citing her "strong accounting background."
By a 3-1 vote, with Faurote opposed, the board selected Elder as the panel's newest member.