VANDALIA — The Vandalia-Butler Board of Education sent Superintendent Bradley Neavin off with well wishes and words of praise on Tuesday evening.
Neavin, who is retiring effective July 31, has served as Superintendent since 2013.
Neavin is widely credited for leading a turnaround in a district that was in crisis when he arrived. Two rounds of staff and teacher layoffs, three failed levies, along with mistrust and division in the community met Neavin when he arrived.
Board Member Melissa Pruszynski recognized the tough road Neavin faced when he took the job.
“Despite the challenges our district faced, you chose to work here,” said Pruszynski. “You confronted criticism head-on while continuing to build community support and reigniting our Aviator spirit.”
Board President Bob Cupp recalled talking to Vandalia Mayor Arlene Setzer who remarked about how Neavin had “put the Aviator name on the map again.”
“The whole spirit is different, the whole mindset is different,” said Cupp. “It’s really been because of Brad. He’s brought a new level of integrity, and a new level of openness, and he really worked hard for that. I have all the respect for you. It’s been an honor working with you. As President of the Board I just want you to know you are a winner, and I don’t think you are going to be forgotten here for a very, very long time.”
Board Member Rodney Washburn recalled not knowing much about the levy but attending a few meetings to get information from Neavin.
“It was refreshing, you were just what the community needed,” said Washburn. “You were the answer to that. We do appreciate you and wish you the best in the next chapter of life.”
Vice President Mary Kilsheimer recalled Neavin’s opening day program and costumes.
“The spirit he brought having a theme was uplifting for the start of a school year,” she said. “The morale boost you brought to this district was amazing.”
Pruszynski summed up the sentiment in the room with her closing comment.
“As a parent, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this district better than it was four years ago,” said Pruszynski. “As you leave, because of you, I want you to remember one thing – We are Aviators!”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.