November 30, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

White reflects on time at PVO

By DAVE HINTON
Rantoul Press editor

ROYAL — Earlier in the week, Vic White, retiring superintendent of Prairieview-Ogden school district, said he didn’t like not being able to have “some closure” with his students, employees, community and parents.


White is stepping down after 24 years as the man at the helm of the district that includes schools in Flatville, Royal and Ogden and serves as principal at the K-4 North Elementary.


He got some of that closure last Thursday when a parade of about 150 vehicles passed by PVO North to show how much people think of the man.


“It was a fabulous surprise,” White said of the parade that was led by his son Zac in his K-9 squad vehicle.
“I received so many posters and cards, it took me hours to open and read. It made me feel amazing.”


With umbrella in hand protecting against the rain, White watched as vehicle after vehicle passed by.


White’s popularity stems not only from serving as superintendent of a successful school district. He was also a standout coach.


What a weird way to go out for White as the coronavirus pandemic put a damper on the end of a long career in education.


“Everything’s new for everybody, and you’re just trying to figure it out,” he said. “I am disappointed. It will hurt schools.”


White and Ronald Reagan have one thing in common. They were both born in Tampico, population 735.


White earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Dubuque in Iowa and his masters and education specialist degrees from Eastern Illinois University.


He started his career in education teaching junior high social studies and eighth-grade physical education for four years at Milford Grade School. He was an assistant football coach at Milford High School and junior high track coach for nine years. White also coached fifth/sixth-grade boys basketball.
He spent five years as principal at Milford Grade School.


White was offered the position as superintendent of Prairieview 192, which inluded the Royal and Flatville schools, in 1996. He remained at the helm in 2005 when that district consolidated with the Ogden district.


Rain seems to have had a prominent place in White’s career. Not only was it coming down for his farewell parade, one of his most memorable early days at Prairieview involved a rainstorm.


“My fourth day on the job here in 1996, it was pouring down rain and I walked down the hallway and into the gym and there were like 20 buckets the janitor had under the leaks,” White said.


It seems White’s predecessor preferred to handle the problem that way rather than get the roof replaced. White didn’t waste time. He held an emergency meeting with the regional office of education, which allowed for an emergency bond to pay for a new roof over a hallway and the gym. It was in place in time for the start of the school year.


An even more alarming situation occurred a few months later. An alarm was sounding at the junior high during the first day of Christmas break. White went to investigate and found the door to the boiler room was burning hot.


He used a broomstick to open the door and turn off the shutoff switch inside the room. The boiler, which was glowing red, had come close to exploding due to a water pump failure.


“We ended up having to take a few more days of Christmas vacation,” White said.


Hicks Gas of Gifford brought in heaters in the bathrooms so nothing would freeze. The boiler was replaced during the Christmas break.


White is proud of having raised $2.3 million in grants — about $90,000 to $100,000 a year — that paid for much of the technology for the district “that our little budget couldn’t afford.”


“I’m proud we’ve got the buildings all in great shape; we added offices at North and a new office at the junior high. We added a library-special ed room at South Elementary.”


A wind turbine was added at South Elementary. The district received small grants for solar power, and a geothermal system was installed at South Elementary.


Added White: “I feel the biggest (accomplishment) is we’ve got great staff, and we do really well in our state (academic) testing. We’re always … near the top. I give great credit to the people we’ve hired.”


White coached volleyball for 10 years at PVO, taking a hiatus of several years when his sons were playing sports.


White’s seventh- and eighth-grade volleyball teams had a glittering 410-60 record. They won 17 regionals and 15 sectionals and brought home five state trophies.


He also coached junior high track for five years.


Jeff Isenhower will succeed White as superintendent.


White, who is 55, and his wife, Sherri, who is retiring as school nurse for Rantoul City Schools, will move to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.


“We’re going to be enjoying a new life on the water,” he said.


His hobbies include fishing, hunting and golfing.


The Whites have three sons. In addition to Zac they have twins Kyle, who lives in Sidney and is assistant general manager of Campus Circle, a residential facility, and Matthew, who lives in Bloomington and is a catastrophe agent for State Farm.


“It’s been a great place to raise my family,” White said. “I’m very proud to have been able to serve this district for (this) number of years.”

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