Big Walnut schools' second in command is moving on.

Big Walnut schools' second in command is moving on.

Assistant Superintendent Gary Barber will leave the district to take over the top post at Marion City Schools.

The Big Walnut school board reluctantly approved Barber's resignation at its meeting Monday, April 8, with members saying they will miss Barber and the good job he has done for the 3,000-student school district.

Barber's resignation is effective July 31. He has a three-year contract with Marion beginning Aug. 1. He has been at Big Walnut for six years, serving as assistant superintendent the past 41/2 years. He previously was principal at Big Walnut High School.

"This all happened just over the past month," Barber said after the April 8 meeting.

He said the challenge of being a superintendent is what attracted him to the Marion job. The Marion school board approved his hiring at its April 1 meeting.

"I felt a real strong connection (with the Marion school board) and where they want to take the district," Barber said.

Marion has about 5,000 students.

Big Walnut board President Allison Fagan said after the meeting that there is plenty of time to concentrate on finding Barber's replacement. She said she anticipates Superintendent Steve Mazzi will come up with a good recommendation for the board to consider.

During the meeting, Fagan praised Barber's work in the district.

"We are, I am, very proud of you," she said. "I am very sad to see you leave ... where are the tissues?"

Other board members echoed those sentiments.

"I hold you in the utmost respect," said board member Pamula Lillie. "Your shoes are going to be difficult to fill."

Member Verna Hines said she was upset at first, but understands it's a good opportunity for Barber.

"When we talked, you talked about (how) you needed to go to someplace where there is a challenge," Hines said to Barber. "I thought, 'Yeah, he needs to do that.' "

Barber suggested to board members that there are good administrators within Big Walnut who could take his job.

"I couldn't have a more-supportive board of education or supportive community," he said.

Former school sells

Also at last week's meeting, Mazzi told the board that the April 3 auction for the former district administration building in Galena was successful.

The Journey Fellowship Church placed the highest bid of $100,000 for the two-story, mostly cinder-block building at 70 N. Walnut St. The minimum bid was $50,000, with Journey being one of two bidders.

The $100,000 will go into the district's capital improvements fund, Mazzi said.

"We're very pleased to get that amount of money," he said.

The aged building had a number of problems, including a leaky roof and mold. The district was paying about $89,000 a year in maintenance and utility costs and closed the building last year.

Administrative staffers, as well as Mazzi and other district officials, moved from the building last summer into offices at the former middle school in Sunbury, which was renovated to be the district's new intermediate school.

Board member Andrew Wecker said he hopes the building will be a good gathering place for the church.

"Congratulations to the Journey church, and I wish them well," he said.