ELISE, Mich. (WLNS) – With the new school year just nine days away the Ovid-Elsie Board of Education president called for unity during Monday night’s meeting.

This comes amid concerns about transparency surrounding the personal use of the district’s gas.

Parents packed the information center at Ovid-Elsie High School after many were left with questions after a special meeting last week that ended with two major department vacancies: the athletic director and director of operations.

This comes after the district’s superintendent also announced plans to retire at the end of this month. Now, the board president is hoping to put this all behind them.

“While the school community is entitled to raise questions and concerns about district operations. It’s unfortunate that the past practice fact-finding investigation has divided the school community and undermined the unity that existed in our district,” said Eric Jones, president of the Ovid-Elsie Board of Education.

Jones asked the Marauders community for patience and a return to common ground ahead of the new school year.

This meeting came after a series of tense discussions over the summer regarding allegations that former Superintendent Ryan Cunningham used district gas on his car.

Parents told 6 News the board called it a “previous practice”.

A third-party firm is investigating the practice and in a statement, Jones said more than $15,000 have been spent on legal fees in the last three months, with more costs expected.

Meanwhile, the board was also tasked with finding a replacement for former Athletic Director Jesse Johnson, who also resigned last week citing personal reasons.

They now approved Mike Watson as his replacement.

Watson said while there have been major changes in the district, he hopes to bring the community together in athletics.

“It certainly was a very professional process. But I am excited to kind of rekindle some of those relationships with the people here. Meet new people as well and really do my best with not only the community and the coaches but the student-athletes as well,” said Watson.

Some parents in the district look forward to the experience Watson brings to the position. But as the investigation continues, parent Don Moore hopes the focus returns to the students.

“We have nine days to go. I think over the course of the last six months we lost sight of what’s most important and that’s the kids,” said Moore.

There is no known connection between the former athletic director stepping down and the investigation into the superintendent’s reported use of school gas. Students are expected back on Wednesday, August 24th.