Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 15, 2013

Amy Bertram to lead Fairfield school


— BENTON — Amy Bertram will be the new principal at Fairfield Junior-Senior High School.

Fairfield school board members approved her promotion from assistant principal to principal at their meeting Thursday.

“Seeing her do everything that Ben (Tonagel) or I asked her to do and to do them as well as she did, convinced me of how much of a quality person we already had,” Superintendent Steve Thalheimer said.

Outgoing Principal Ben Tonagel sought Bertram out when the third administrative position came open last year, Thalheimer said. She has a total of five years of administrative experience, four of them at Prairie Heights. She also previously taught in Goshen.

“It seemed to me we needed to stay the course with someone who can continue the things we have been doing,” Thalheimer said. “If we were to bring someone in from the outside, we would lose some of that continuity.”

Bertram’s contract will begin July 1 and her annual salary will be $84,614. She is replacing Tonagel, who is leaving to take the same position at his alma mater, LaPorte High School.

The third administrative role at the junior-senior high school will have a different look for next school year, according to a plan the board also approved Thursday.

The position will be an administrative assistant to the principal, not a full administration position. Thalheimer said it would be ideal for a teacher who does not have a principal’s license but may be considering that path.

“It would give us the ability to grow our own leaders,” Thalheimer said.

The administrative assistant to the principal would be in charge of attendance and discipline, and would not be evaluating teachers.  It would be a teacher’s contract plus 20 days.

Transfer students

In other business, Thalheimer explained to the board some changes in how the corporation accepts transfer tuition students.

The principals determined how many more students their building could accommodate at each grade level, taking into account current transfers, siblings of transfer students and children of teachers, and allowing some wiggle room for new students who may move into the district over the summer.

Applications are being accepted through July 9 for next school year at kindergarten through sixth and ninth through 11th grades. Grades seven, eight and 12 do not have any open slots. The number of spots available at each grade level is listed on their website along with the application.

In the past, school officials could turn down potential transfer students based on academic history or ISTEP scores, but now the only issues that can disqualify a student are disciplinary issues.

If there are more applications than spots available at a particular grade level, a lottery will be held at the July 11 school board meeting. Parents can list a preferred school, but it may not be honored due to class sizes.