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NES principal to also direct pre-school program

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By The Staff

NICHOLS - Donna LaFountain is now doing some double duty.

The principal of Nichols Elementary is now also serving the role as director of the county’s pre-school program.

Superintendent Keith Davis said it would not be a position where LaFountain splits the duties 50/50. Instead, she will spend whatever time is required for each of the positions.

When the pre-school coordinator’s position became open, Davis said he looked at ways to fill the slot.

“I think we have a good solution,” said Davis.

Part of the decision centered around finances. The district would be able to save $60,000-$70,000 by not filling the pre-school position.

Also, Davis said LaFountain receives principal’s pay while having less than 150 students.

“It is a way to make the school a little more efficient,” said Davis. “Many districts close the small community schools but we never want to do that.”

To assist, Davis said there would be clerical help at Nichols to assist with the pre-school program, as well as a speech pathologist.

“She’s a very upbeat and energetic person,” Davis said of LaFountain. “I think she can handle the duties.”

Much of the work for the pre-school coordinator is during the summer and Davis felt she wouldn’t have to be out of the building a lot during the school year.

Board member Dolores Ashby, who has been involved with Nichols Elementary for over 20 years and whose district includes the school, said she must be responsible to the entire school system.

“It breaks my heart,” Ashby said of the split arrangement.

But she said the pupil population makes it hard to justify not having the Nichols principal handle some other duties.

For LaFountain, it will be another educational challenge.

“My heart is with Nichols,” said LaFountain.

She said it will take some juggling of time but LaFountain said she enjoys a challenge. There was never any discussion about a 50/50 split. Instead, LaFountain said she will be doing what is needed to make sure both jobs are done.

“I look at things in life as half full,” said LaFountain, who has spent nearly seven years as the Nichols principal. “I’m kind of excited about seeing if I can make it work.”

She has faith in her staff at Nichols to continue the good work even if she has to be out of the building at times. LaFountain said she didn’t expect to be out that often.

If there is a concern, LaFountain said she would talk with Davis to find a solution.