Whitesburg KY

Board still looking to end classes in mid-May

Even though Letcher County Public Schools have called off school eight times this semester because of inclement weather, summer break for students could still begin in mid-May.

Because the school district banked five days, it has three days to make up. Banked days are used to compensate for some days missed and are days accumulated by having extra time added to the regular school day.

If no more school days are missed, May 13 will be the last day of the 2015-16 school year for students.

Superintendent Tony Sergent told the Letcher County Board of Education during its January meeting this week that he is hopeful classes can resume on Thursday.

In other business at Monday night’s meeting, Will Smith was re-elected as board chairman and Mendy Boggs was re-elected as vice chairman.

Board member Robert Kiser was the only board member who didn’t attend the meeting.

The board accepted the revised extra service and extra duty salary schedule for the 2016-17 school year. An athletic director position has been added to the list of supplemental positions. Annual salary of the position is $12,000, the same as head football and head basketball coaches.

Since Arthur “Ozz” Jackson retired as the full-time athletic director in 2014, Letcher County Central High School football coach Mike Holcomb and LCC teacher Mike Melton had shared athletic director duties before Holcomb recently resigned as football coach.

The board also approved a tentative staffing plan for the 2016-17 school year. Based on estimated enrollment figures, one less teacher would be allocated at Cowan, Letcher and West Whitesburg elementary schools and at Letcher County Central High School for a total reduction of four.

Sergent recognized the board as a part of School Board Appreciation Month.

Boggs and Kiser have served on the board for three years. Lena Parsons and Erica Scott have been on the board for a year. Smith has been chairman for 15 of the 23 years he has been a board member.

Sergent said student achievement measured on standardized state testing has tremendously improved in the past three years, increasing from the 29th percentile to the 89th percentile in the state.

Sergent said also commended the board for living within the district’s budget.

“ Three years ago we were spending about $600,000 more a year than we were bringing in,” he said. “This year we have had a great year with our budget. We’ve been able to buy eight new buses, five used ones.”

The district also bought new textbooks for the first time in at least 14 years. The district has also had school facilities painted and floor tiles replaced.

“We’ve done all those things,” said Sergent. “We’ve done a lot of work on our schools. Yet, our budget is still okay because we have focused on what we have said we were going to do since you all have been here [and that] is to put the money for kids.”

Sergent said salaries have been reduced from about 83 percent to 74 percent of the school district’s budget, which frees up more than $1 million to benefit students.

The board also:

• approved an offer of assistance of $46,583 annual debt service on bonds from the School Facilities Construction Commission for construction or major renovation projects.

• approved the following overnight trips: Letcher Middle School’s eighth grade trip to Lexington on April 21; LCCHS’s wrestling match in Bourbon County on February 12; LCCHS’s dance team competition in Louisville on March 4; Letcher Middle School boys’ basketball team to attend Sweet 16 Tournament in Lexington on March 19; and LCCHS’s cheerleading squad competition in Orlando, Fla., on February 4.

• approved a memorandum of agreement for the 2016-17 school year with Teach For America to assist the Letcher school district in recruiting new teachers.

• approved submission of FCC form 470 for telecommunications services, Internet connection and Internet access for the 2016-17 school year.

• approved non-resident contracts for the 2016-17 school year with Pike County Schools, Harlan County Schools, Harlan Independent, Knott County Schools, Perry County Schools, Hazard Independent and Pikeville Independent.

• learned of the certified resignation of Mike Holcomb, LCC football coach.

• learned of the certified employment of Olivia Brooke Tyree, a teacher at Martha Jane Potter Elementary School.

• learned of the classified employments of Holly Bradley, a cook/baker at Letcher; Meloney Gilley, district-wide instructional assistant I; Melissa Ison, cook/baker; Jo Ann Johnson, cook/baker; Heidi Martin, bus driver at Fleming-Neon Middle School; Greg McCray, custodian at Whitesburg Middle School; Emitt McElroy, bus driver at Letcher; Mary Mullins, custodian at Whitesburg Middle School; and Cobey Wright, program assistant II at Fleming-Neon Middle School.

The board went into closed session 7:24 p.m. to discuss an individual employee and litigation involving former teacher Roger Hall. The board came out of executive session after 8 p.m. and Smith said no action was taken while in closed session.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on February 22 at the Letcher County School Bus Garage.

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