JEFFERSONVILLE — Mark Laughner now is Greater Clark County Schools' superintendent.

The Greater Clark school board unanimously voted Tuesday to approve the superintendent contract for Laughner, who has been serving on an interim basis since January. His employment contract runs from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2022.

His appointment as interim superintendent followed the departure of Andrew Melin, who resigned abruptly in December after six years as Greater Clark's superintendent. Melin ended his tenure on Jan. 2, and the school board voted 6-1 on Jan. 22 to appoint Laughner as interim superintendent until June 30.

Laughner left his role as Charlestown High School principal, where he worked for six and a half years, to serve as the interim superintendent. Before Charlestown High School, he was the principal at Parkview Middle School.

According to the contract, his annual base salary as superintendent will be $155,000.

He said he is relieved and excited that the contract was approved, and he looks forward to diving deeper into his work as superintendent.

"When you're the interim superintendent, you just try to do the work and hope that you're doing the right things and that people are seeing that you're trying to do the right things," he said. "I'm pretty relieved to have reached this point."

Laughner said the district has been busy putting together a strategic plan to set goals for next school year. One of his main goals is to create a fiscally responsible budget that allows a rainy day cash balance of about 8 percent and allows flexibility in hiring more staff, he said. He also hopes that the district will be in a position to provide salary increases to classified and certified staff.

"It's really just putting together a financially responsible budget that meets the needs of everybody in the district," he said.

He also intends to put together a 10-year facility plan to address older buildings, saying he wants to be conscientious of the costs for improvements to the district, as well as how potential improvements could affect residents' tax rates.

"I want to be very respectful of our taxpayers in the district while balancing that with the fact that we have some older facilities that need some work," he said.

In addition, Laughner emphasized his commitment to pushing forward the district's academic achievement.

"We have a good framework for what we're doing academically with the academy model, our literacy plan, our numeracy plan, our PRIDE plan, and we're doing good things with students, but we want to continue to make sure we're moving forward, that we're getting results, that our students are prepared to graduate from high school and have post-secondary plans they can move into after high school," he said.

School board member Katie Hutchison said the community has been happy to have an interim superintendent who is familiar with Greater Clark Schools, and she looks forward to seeing his work as permanent superintendent.

"Mark is such a supporter of kids and teachers in the area, and we're so excited," she said.

School board member Christina Gilkey, who voted against the appointment of Laughner as interim superintendent, said it is important to give a new superintendent a fair chance at a good start and offer the full support of the board as he moves forward. While she has expressed concerns about his inexperience in the central office, she voted in favor of his appointment as permanent superintendent.

"He does have the backing of a very good team who can mentor him and support him and give him direction," she said.

School board member Teresa Bottorff-Perkins said Laughner hit the ground running as interim superintendent, and she was impressed with his experience as a building principal.

"Mr. Laughner has had many years with our system," she said. "It's obvious that he loves Greater Clark County Schools. When we interviewed, Mr. Laughner was the best as far as qualifications, and I'm just pleased and ready to move forward."