NEW PALESTINE — Officials from the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County hired former Maxwell Intermediate School principal Jobie Whitaker. For now, he will be their new assistant to the transportation department. However, it’s expected Whitaker will move into the main role as the transportation director at the end of October.

The school board approved the hiring of Whitaker on Monday evening and set his salary at $117,800 per year. His last day at Maxwell Intermediate School was Sept. 8.

The move in the transportation department comes just nine months after Southern Hancock officials hired Tim Smith, a former Indiana school administrator, who came out of retirement in Arizona to lead the transportation department after they had some personnel issues there.

Smith started working for the district in January and was slated to make $92,700 this year. However, district officials noted Smith has informed them he plans to go back into retirement in October.

Whitaker was hired as the assistant to the transportation department with the understanding he will take over the head position in a few weeks when Smith leaves, pending board approval.

“I loved my time in Maxwell at Greenfield-Central,” Whitaker said. “I have been looking for the best opportunity to gain additional leadership experience and this will allow me to grow my knowledge and expertise in district-level leadership.”

Southern Hancock District Communications and Community Relations Director Craig Smith said that, with having so much administrative experience, Whitaker will be asked to take on a few front office administrative duties in addition to running the transportation department.

“Jobie will not just be doing director of transportation duties,” Craig Smith said. “We’ve had some extra legislative unfunded mandates that need administration, and with his administrative background he’ll be able to jump in and help us do that.”

District officials say they do plan to hire a transportation assistant after Whitaker takes over the lead role in the not-too-distant future.

“We will be looking for an assistant, but at a different pay schedule,” Craig Smith said.

As for Whitaker, Craig Smith noted, Southern Hancock is excited to have him join the team.

“He brings great leadership skills to our transportation department,” he said. “We are looking forward to a smooth transition while maintaining and enhancing services for our students, staff, families and community.”

Whitaker is expected to take advantage of the transition time these next six to seven weeks and learn as much as he can from Tim Smith.

Whitaker, a 1992 Eastern Hancock graduate, noted he finished up his Education Specialist (Ed. S.) degree from Indiana State University two years ago and earned a Bachelors of Science degree and a Master of Arts degree from Ball State University.

Whitaker has taught science and served as an assistant principal, athletic director and, most recently, as a principal, all in Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation.

“I am looking forward to using my skills in leadership, building teams and feeding a collaborative culture to help the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock transportation department continue to reach even greater heights,” Whitaker said.