LAPEL — There will be new leadership for Frankton-Lapel Community Schools for the 2022-23 school year.
Longtime Superintendent and educator Bobby Fields is retiring at the end of the calendar year.
Fields has spent 39 years in education, the past 14 as superintendent.
Fields’ replacement, and other leadership changes, involve a shifting of positions among people familiar to those in the school system.
Current assistant superintendent Sterling Boles will become the new superintendent.
Instead of hiring a new assistant superintendent, the board approved two new positions to serve FLCS students and staff.
Wendy Smedley, who had been an assistant principal at Frankton Jr.-Sr. High School will be Chief Learning Officer.
John Willis, currently the principal at Lapel High School, is the new Chief Operating Officer.
“We looked at five districts larger than us and five districts smaller,” Boles said. “We looked at how many certified central office staff personnel they had. No other district our size had just two. The five larger and the five smaller we looked at, one had three and the rest had four to six.
“A couple of years ago we had a corporation technology coordinator and that person was asked to leave, and we didn’t replace them. We’ve had a third person before, but the last 10 years we haven’t. We just absorbed that position. We thought it was time with all the rules, regulations, requirements to make sure we’re supporting our students and staff. We really needed to split that out and focus and dive a little deeper than what has been done in the past.”
Smedley will focus on education-related duties, such as curriculum, assessment and instruction.
Willis will be in charge of things such as budget, transportation and maintenance.
“I think, as a board, we’d all say we’re really excited about what (the two new positions) can do for the corporation and really take it to another level. You’re both unbelievably qualified with all your experience in all the schools. It’s the right time, right people and we’re happy to be working with you guys,” school board member Brian Gill said to Smedley and Willis at the May 12 school board meeting.
“I appreciate the opportunity and I’m excited about the direction,” Smedley told the board.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Willis added.
Fields and Boles came to central office at the same time. Boles in his 14th year as the assistant superintendent and has 33 years of experience in education.
Boles, Smedley and Willis begin their new positions on July 1.
Lapel High School seniors Olivia Williams and Ciera Wilson shared stories to board members about their recent senior trip to Europe, taken during the school’s recent spring break.
Sixteen seniors, chaperoned by school administrators, went to London, Paris, Madrid and Toledo (Spain).
“In a world where we’re so divided nowadays, seeing everything we have in common as human beings is awesome,” Williams said. “It was truly life-changing.”
Williams added that Toledo reminded her of Lapel, noting Toledo is to Madrid as Lapel is to Indianapolis.
“The people were so friendly, and the architecture was so beautiful,” she said.
“I think this is some of the best education we can provide for our kids,” school board member Randy Cunningham said.
Willis, who accompanied the group on the trip, said 16 seniors went to Europe. It was one of the school’s smaller contingents on what was an annual trip prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The trip had been canceled or postponed the last two years.
Superintendent Fields said there had been a larger group signed up for the trip but some had backed out because of the pandemic. He added there are currently 10 people signed up for next year’s trip.