Letcher County Public Schools Supt. Anna Craft told the Letcher County Board of Education this week that financial uncertainties prevent local school officials from knowing exactly what next year’s budget will look like, and the board won’t be able to give schools a complete staffing allocation plan until May.
Craft told the board at Monday night’s meeting that $298,000 was recently cut from the budget by the state and the Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding will be $100,000 less next school year. Craft said the district has also suffered financially because of a rise in winter power bills. She expects the increases in the cost of diesel fuel to impact the district as well.
The board doesn’t know yet how much money it will receive for programs such as Title 1, the gifted and talented program, preschool allocations and Family Resource and Youth Service Centers (FRYSC).
“We don’t have a total picture,” said Craft.
Staffing allocations are based on the number of students at each school. The board approved a tentative staffing plan at the meeting held Feb. 28, and by law the board doesn’t have to present a final staff- ing allocation plan to principals and site-based councils until May 1.
“We will lose some staffing positions,” said Craft. “We will do the best we can with our children in mind and staff a close parallel.”
Craft said the district’s budget committee will meet this week.
In other business, Kenneth Cornett, director of pupil personnel, said the district’s attendance rate for the sixth month of school was 88.9 percent. Martha Jane Potter Elementary School had the highest attendance rate at 90.53 percent.
“The sixth month was not a good month for us,” said Cornett. “We have had a lot of illnesses and a lot of students sick.”
The last day of school for students is set at May 27 if no more school days are missed.
“It it’s not snow, it is flu,” said Craft.
Chris Russell, construction manager of the Letcher Area Technology Center project, said workers are ahead of schedule and the substantial and final completion dates have moved up two weeks. Oct. 26 is the current substantial completion date and Nov. 11 is the current final completion date.
“We’ve had a real good thirty days,” said Russell.
Main electrical feeders from the transformer were installed Feb. 9. Foundation block was laid and the last section of perimeter footers were poured. Underground electricity was installed. On Feb. 21, the concrete floor slab was poured and the next day workers started laying block walls on the first floor.
During the next 30 days of construction, Russell said crews will finish prepping and pouring slab sections, set first floor doorframes and apply waterproofing to foundation wall and backfi ll. Workers will begin erecting columns and beams on the first floor.
The board also:
• named Diann Bolling, an instructional assistant at Martha Jane Potter Elementary School, as employee of the month.
• recognized Kirsten Sexton, a sixth-grade student at Arlie Boggs Elementary School, for winning the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA) banner contest. Kirsten is the daughter of Donnie and Amy Sexton.
• approved a correction of the minutes of the Nov. 22 board meeting. The board approved a change order in the amount of $13,520 for the construction of the Letcher Area Technology Center.
• approved Cumberland River Coal Company’s request to hold four safety training classes at West Whitesburg Elementary School, Letcher County Central High School and Whitesburg High School.
• approved the First Baptist Church of Whitesburg’s request to hold a youth lockin at the old Whitesburg High School gymnasium on March 25.
• agreed to allow the Letcher County Wolves semi-pro football team to use the Fleming-Neon Elementary School football field and locker rooms from April 1 through August 30.
Will Smith, chairman of the board, told Wolves Coach Lennie Holbrook that the grass needs to be established before the football team can practice on the Fleming-Neon field. Smith said Holbrook will be notifi ed when the field is ready for use.
Craft said she enjoyed watching the semi-pro football team play last season.
“I liked seeing our former LCC players play,” said Craft.
The board also:
• approved a request by the Fleming- Neon High School alumni to hold a class reunion at the Fleming Neon gym and football field on June 24 through June 26.
• voted to allow the Letcher County Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) to compete in regional competition in Richmond on March 3 and March 4.
• voted to allow the LCCHS speech team to compete in state level competition in Bowling Green March 10 through March 12.
• approved travel to Lexington on March 12 by academic teams from Cowan, Beckham Bates, Martha Jane Potter elementary schools and Whitesburg Middle School for state level competition.
• approved travel to Bowling Green by the Whitesburg Middle School speech and drama team to participate in the Junior State Speech Competition on March 17 through March 20.
• voted to allow the LCCHS dance team to compete in JamFest Dance Competition in Louisville March 18 through March 20.
• voted to allow Letcher County Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) to travel to Louisville March 23 to compete in state level competition.
• granted permission to the LCCHS baseball team to play baseball games in Irvine May 6 and May 7 and in Kingsport, Tenn. on March 26.
• approved a request by the Martha Jane Potter Elementary School eighthgrade class to travel to Charleston, S.C. on May 8 through May 10.
• said Arlie Boggs Elementary School students could sell Avon as a schoolwide fund- raiser during March.
• voted to allow Beckham Bates Elementary School to host a Scholastic Book Fair during March. Funds raised will be used for summer literacy camp and new books for the library.
• rewarded the LCCHS wrestling and cheerleading teams by giving each team up to $1,000 for reaching state-level competition.
• pledged to increase the rate of college and career readiness of the district’s high school graduates by 50 percent between 2011 and 2015 by signing the “Commonwealth Commitment” pledge as part of Senate Bill 1.
“Senate Bill 1 is serious business and I want to make sure we do implement it and do everything we can,” said Dr. Sam Quillen Jr., a school board member.
• entered into a memorandum of agreement with Morehead State University and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to implement the college cadet program for the 2010–2011 school year at LCCHS.
• entered into a lease agreement with Xerox for a copy printer for Cowan Elementary School at a cost of $830.98 and a separate agreement for a copy printer for Martha Jane Potter Elementary School at a cost of $830.72.
• employed Darrell Hall as board attorney beginning March 1 for one year at a cost of $100 per hour with no retainer fee.
• heard the first reading several of changes to the board polices and procedures. One change will require that during fund-raising activities, elementary and middle school students must be accompanied by an adult while going door to door to sell items. Another stipulates that eighth-grade class trips shall not exceed two days and one night beginning with the 2013–2014 school year. Also, all school trips or general fund trips will be charged 50 cents per mile in county and 85 cents per mile out of county. Non-school related programs will be charged at a rate of $2.25 per mile.
“Those are good changes,” said Sandy Hogg, district director of special programs. “A lot of them have been talked about for years.”
• approved the following payment of claims for construction of the Letcher Area Technology Center: Alliance Corporation, $143,010; MMI of Kentucky, $13,326; Home Lumber Company, $51,795; Pine Mountain Stone, $12,989.48; Structural Steel Services, $38,830; Atlas Metal Products, $172.80; Elliott Contracting Inc., $19,048.50; Elliott Supply & Glass, $4,274.35; and Codell Construction Co., $11,115.
• approved the financial report presented by Gary Caldwell, district finance officer, as well as the payment of bills and transfers and January payment of salaries. Caldwell reported the bank balance on January 31 being $11,423,857.88, with at least $6 million of that marked for construction projects.
• approved the hiring of the following classified employees: Joshua Adams, a custodian at LCCHS; Mary Coyle, a custodian (four hours) at Cowan Elementary School; Tonya Logan, a bus driver at Cowan; Peggy Roark, a custodian at Cowan; and Heather Vice, program assistant II at Letcher Elementary School.
• learned of the resignation of Jamie Fields, a cook/baker at West Whitesburg Elementary School.
• approved the hiring of the following substitute teachers: Kimberly Blair, Rank VI (pilot); Sarah Oakes, Rank II; and Michael Sexton, Rank V.
• approved the hiring Stephanie Blair as a substitute instructional assistant/bus monitor.
• approved employing James Baker as assistant wrestling coach at LCCHS.
The board went into executive session at 8:05 p.m. “for the purpose of discussing litigation, personnel and/or property” and Smith reported no action was taken in executive session at 8:37 p.m.
The next board meeting is set for 6 p.m. on March 28 at the Letcher County school bus garage.