The Letcher County Board of Education is not happy with the current sound system in the Letcher County Central High School gymnasium and wants a new system before graduation day on June 3.
Board members say they haven’t been able to hear what valedictorians and salutatorians have said during their commencement speeches since the opening of the consolidated high school in 2006.
“They work far too hard for no one to hear them,” said Board Member Mike Harris.
Speakers have been replaced and control panels and microphones have been added, but those measures didn’t seem to fix the problem.
“It sounds like Charlie Brown. Wah wah wah wah wah,” said Twyla Messer, assistant superintendent of the Letcher County School System. “The timing is off and sound bounces. It is a mess.”
Superintendent Anna Craft said it is like standing in two canyons with two echoes.
Messer told the board the current speakers are not strong enough to handle the sound in the gym.
The board approved at Monday night’s April meeting the hiring of Adams Engineering of London to take down 14 existing speakers located above the perimeter of the gymnasium floor and install four speakers above the center of the gym. Two speakers already hang above center court. There will be a cluster of six speakers in the center.
“(Adams Engineering) wants to make it like Rupp Arena where there is a conglomerate of speakers,” said Messer.
Adams Engineering installed similar sound systems and North and South Laurel high schools in London.
Existing speakers will be used to replace speakers at the elementary schools.
The board also approved declaring two speakers as surplus. The project is estimated to cost $8,732.
In other business, Messer told the board the cost of diesel fuel is taking a toll on the district’s budget.
School was in session 11 days in January and $10,735 was spent on diesel fuel, with the average price of fuel at $2.69 a gallon. School was held 17 days in February and $30,000 was spent on fuel. The average price per gallon was $3.52. The district spent $53,574 on diesel fuel in March. School was in session 18 days in March and the average price of fuel was $3.72. Last March the district spent $27,000 on diesel fuel.
“We almost doubled because of the price of fuel,” said Messer. “If fuel continues to rise we are going to have to look at some options to alleviate the costs.”
Messer said there is a possibility of cutting back on the number of buses being used. She said there are some buses which pick up only elementary and middle school students in a hollow and then a separate bus will follow and pick up high school students. One bus could be used to transport all the children from a hollow.
“We need to take a hard look at what you are saying,” said Board Chairman Will Smith. “It is going to be hard to deal with.”
“It may go down and we won’t have to deal with this,” said Messer. Gary Caldwell, district finance officer, said utility costs have also increased.
In other business, Chris Russell, construction manager of the Letcher County Area Technology Center, said the final completion date is now set at November 25.
“We have had a few adverse weather days over the last three weeks, but we are still on schedule,” said Russell.
Workers have installed a waterproofing system. Steel columns and beams are erected. The second floor bar joists and steel decking have been installed. The upper fill area was hydroseeded.
During the next 30 days, workers will prep and pour the second floor concrete slabs. The HVAC, plumbing and electrical rough-in will be installed above the ceiling on the first floor. The metal stud walls will be installed on the first floor. The backfill will be completed.
The board also:
• named Whitney Bentley, guidance counselor at Martha Jane Potter Elementary School, as employee of the month.
• recognized Kobie Johnson, a seventh-grade student at MJP, for scoring 19 on the ACT. He will participate in a three-week program this summer at Duke University as part of the Talent Identification Program (TIP). Kobie is the son of Heather Mullins and Kevin Johnson.
• approved a piano recital by Miriam Hostetler and reception at the LCCHS Auditorium on May 7. Hostetler will use the baby grand piano located in the auditorium.
• approved a dance rehearsal by Tiffany Owen and the Dance Gallery to hold a in the LCCHS Auditorium.
• approved several overnight and out-of-state trips: The eighthgrade class at Whitesburg Middle School will travel to Cincinnati and King’s Island on May 5.
The preschool class at West Whitesburg Elementary School will go to the Hands- On Museum in Johnson City, Tenn., on May 19. The WMS sixth-grade class, the Arlie Boggs Elementary School eighth-grade class, and Cowan Elementary School eightgrade class will all travel to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., on May 20. The CES seventh-grade class will visit Bays Mountain and the planetarium in Kingsport, Tenn., on May 20. The eighth-grade class at Letcher Elementary School will sightsee in Louisville on May 13.
The LCCHS boys’ basketball team will participate in a tournament in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 17 through Dec. 22.
The MJP band will go Paintsville on April 29 and Kings Island on May 31.
The LCCHS Student Technology Leadership Program will participate in state competition on May 12. The LCCHS JROTC will travel to Richmond on May 28 to participate in a cadet leadership challenge.
• approved the operation of a “summer feeding program” for any child less than 19 years old. LCCHS and Fleming-Neon Elementary School will serve as feeding sites.
• authorized Craft to request Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Terry Holliday to grant one disaster day for Arlie Boggs Elementary School. The school missed one day because of no electricity.
• approved the 2011– 2012 school calendar. The first day of school for students will be August 3. December 16 will be the last day of school before Christmas break. Spring break is scheduled for April 9 and April 10. School will also be closed April 11 through April 13 for the Kentucky Education Association meeting. The last day of school is set for May 10.
• approved a rental contract for the Letcher County Central High School drama department’s production of “Happy Days.” Cost of renting the backdrop is $1,020.
• entered into a one-year lease agreement with the Letcher Fiscal Court for use of the Letcher County baseball fields located near the Whitesburg Bypass for the LCCHS softball team to conduct practices and games. Cost is $2,500.
• declared a Selmer saxophone and a Conn saxophone as surplus property.
• approved the following payment of claims for construction of the Letcher County Area Technology Center, which total $516,150.15: WD Construction, $ 41,375.70; Mountain Aggregates, $5,254.20; Alliance Corporation, $42,975; Home Lumber Company, $32,307; J&J Masonry, $58,500; Hinkle Block and Masonry, $34,031.76; Structural Steel, $ 41,172.35; New Millennium, $146,470; Marion Steel Fabrication, $24,190.81; Elliott Contracting, $56,112.30; Ferguson Enterprises, $3,597.38; Elliott Supply and Glass, $11,015.65; and Codell Construction, $19,148.
• approved the financial report and payment of bills and transfers and payment salaries for March. Caldwell reported $11,285,541.10 in the bank, with $6,351,419.97 being designated for construction projects.
• approved employing White and Associates, PSC to audit the financial records of the General Fund, Chapter I, School Activity Funds, school lunchrooms and any additional funds required by statute for Fiscal Year 2010–2011. The audit is to be completed and submitted to the Kentucky Department of Education by October 31.
• accepted hiring Diana Faye Collier as the LCCHS head boys’ track coach.
• learned of the resignations of Linda Setzer as account clerk III at central office and Shirley Blair as a custodian at WMS.
• accepted the hirings of Barbara Ashby as a cook/baker at WWES; Angela Cates as a substitute secretary, instructional assistant and bus monitor (district wide); Jacqueline Caudill as a substitute bus monitor; Lori Sexton as a substitute cook/baker and custodian; and Cherith Wright as a substitute custodian.
• approved 10 extra days at eight hours a day for the secretary at Beckham Bates Elementary School. The school will pay for these days from its allocated funds.
The board entered into executive session at 8 p.m. “for the purpose of discussing litigation, personnel and/or property.” The board came out of executive session at 9:05 p.m., after which Smith said no action was taken while in executive session.
The next board meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on May 23 in the Lendell Smith Memorial Conference Room of the Letcher County School Bus Garage.