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Board to look at cost of tournament travel

The Letcher County Board of Education may change its old policy of giving up to $1,000 to help pay travel expenses for every sports team that advances to state-level competition. At its November meeting this week, the board said it decide on a policy next month that is “fair and ethical” for all teams.

The board’s held its discussion of travel expenses three days after Letcher County Central High School’s football team visited northern Kentucky to play Fort Thomas Highlands in the regional play-offs. Rather than spend the night away from home after the game, the football team traveled to and from the Cincinnati area on two chartered buses, the cost of which were financed mostly by donations from members of the community.

“We may have a team of three or four that goes to the state tournament and we may have a team of 90 kids that goes to the state tournament,” said Board Chairman Will Smith. “That’s something that I would like for us to look into to see if we could prorate that by the number of participants or something to even that up a little bit.”

“You know when I first saw that I thought that too, but then I started thinking, ‘Those teams that we usually send – there’s just a few of them,'” said Board Member Sam Quillen Jr. “(Those teams) are usually non-revenue sports that have trouble raising money.”

“I don’t think the board can afford to put aside much more money in our budget than we already do,” said Superintendent Anna Craft. “I’d like to win in every category. But I think we need to (ask), ‘Are we doing it fair and ethically? Do we need to look at it differently?’ This is the same amount that you all have been giving for 20 years.”

“It says up to $1,000,” said Board member Attwell Turner.

“It’s just after our football team went down the road,” said Smith. “It is so, so expensive to take that many kids down there. That’s the reason it sort of hit me between the eyes. I understand what you all are saying. We need to look at it and see if there needs to be changes. If there don’t, we won’t change it.”

“I think we need to review it and think about it,” said Craft.

The board on Monday night approved reimbursement of payment for expenses – up to $1,000 each – for the football team’s travel on November 23 and for the Letcher County Central High School boys’ and girls’ cross country teams, which participated in state competition in Lexington on November 10.

In other business, the board approved entering into a lease agreement with Childers Oil and the Neon Volunteer Fire Department to use their box trailers to transport band instruments to Frankfort for the inaugural parade on December 11. Craft said each of the 120 Kentucky counties is allowed to have one entry in the parade and Letcher County has traditionally taken an allcounty band.

The band will consist of students from Letcher County Central High School, Jenkins High School, and middle schools in the Letcher County School System. Craft said the band will include about 100 students. The band members will wear black trousers and the LCCHS band jackets.

The board also heard that a lack of funding is hindering earlier plans to buy laptop computers for students to check out and take home with them to complete homework assignments. The Hazard Independent School System already has a similar program in place.

“A lot of students don’t have access to computers at home,” Board Member Turner after asking about the status of the computers.

Randy Bailey, district technology coordinator, said the Hazard system has undertaken “a very expensive venture.”

“It is somewhere on the order of $1 million to lease,” said Bailey. “They have very good business partners to keep that going.”

Bailey said the district could buy two computer workstations for what it would cost to buy one laptop computer.

Rupert White, certified public accountant, gave a presentation of the audit of financial records including the general fund, Chapter I, school activity funds, school lunchrooms and any other funds required by statute for the 2006-2007 school year.

“We’re about 95 percent there – the best I have felt with the audit,” said White.

He said his one concern is that all of the fixed assets have to be inventoried every two years.

Kenneth Cornett, director of pupil personnel, is still concerned with the district’s attendance rate, which was 92 percent for the third month of the school year.

“It is not where it needs to be,” said Cornett.

The board also:

• named Brenda Chaney, an English and language arts teacher at Letcher County Central High School, as the district’s employee of the month.

• accepted the resignation of Terry Anderson, a bus driver at Letcher County Central High School and Letcher Elementary School.

• accepted $38,073 as an offer of assistance from the School Facilities Construction Commission and $28,183 as an offer of assistance from the School Facilities Construction Commission from coal severance funding.

“We do have to match those funds and that is to upgrade our computers,” said Craft.

• approved the continuation of a contract with Tender Loving Care Daycare for after-school and summer child care at West Whitesburg Elementary School for the remainder of the 2007- 2008 school year.

• approved the financial report, payment of bills and transfers, and payment of salaries for November 2007. Roger Martin, district finance officer, reported that the actual balance contains $3,764,486.97.

• established an early steps coordinator position for the Save the Children program at Beckham Bates Elementary School. This classified position will be established for 220 days a year for eight hours a day. The salary will be $9 an hour to be funded from the Save the Children grant.

The board went into executive session at 7:30 p.m. “for the purpose of discussing litigation, personnel and/or property” and came out of executive session at 7:55 p.m. Smith said no action was taken while in executive session.

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