Whitesburg KY

Eolia parents fear school may close

A woman whose three children attend Arlie Boggs Elementary School told the Letcher County Board of Education this week she is concerned the Eolia school may soon.

“We have become immediately alarmed that our school might be closed,” said Brenda Mullins. “We do want everyone to know that we need our school. It’s a school for the kids and it is also a community.”

Mullins told the board at its March meeting on Monday night that a letter was sent home to parents earlier that day notifying them of a community meeting at 6 p.m. on March 29 at ABES.

“We do want you to know we are aware and we do want our school to stay where it is,” said Mullins. “We do want everyone to know that we are going to be right there with it.”

Mullins told the board to expect a “terrific turnout” at next week’s meeting.

Letcher Schools Supt. Anna Craft said she is anticipating a large turnout at an “informal, informational” community meeting to discuss data trends and staffing allocations at the school.

“We have invited the community over there at Arlie Boggs to come and we are going to serve some hot-dogs and sit down with them and look at the figures and the trend of loss of students, loss of population in a community,” said Craft. “What does that mean to a school? What is the school going to look like next year, the year after and so forth?”

Mullins said several issues come with the small school.

“We have like 130 students, but each one of them is important,” said Craft. “All of the children are based there. That’s their homes and their families. A lot of them have been there for generations and generations.”

If students changed schools, Mullins worries about traveling time and the health of the students.

“When you take a child out of a routine and an area and bring them to new it affects them,” said Mullins. “It will affect their studies.”

In other business, the board authorized Craft to request that the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) grant ABES one emergency day because of a school day missed because of no electricity.

The board also authorized Craft to request that KDE grant seven emergency days because of inclement weather and sickness to the district. As of March 22, the school district has missed 27 days. Approval is contingent upon passing of a legislative bill pertaining to emergency days.

“I’m not for asking that we don’t teach,” said Craft. “We need to teach our children but we have missed a tremendous amount.”

Craft said if the emergency days are granted, staff will use those days for professional development.

Kenneth Cornett, pupil personnel director, said as of March 16 the district attendance rate is 91.84 percent for the 2009-2010 school year. West Whitesburg Elementary School had the highest attendance rate for the sixth month at 93.54 percent.

In other business, Cassity Riffe, a junior at Letcher County Central High School, will become the first student representative to serve on the Letcher County Board of Education. She attended Monday’s meeting and will officially begin her one-year term at the July board meeting.

The board also:

• named Debi Sexton, language arts teacher at Whitesburg Middle School, employee of the month.

• approved the award of a bid of $107,000 for the reroofing project at Whitesburg Middle School to South Central Roofing and Sheet Metal.

Bill Richardson, who is the architect on the roofing project, said the roof is almost 25 years old.

• entered into an agreement with the Letcher County Wolves, a new semi-professional football team, to play its home games at the old Fleming-Neon High School football field.

• approved the superintendent’s personnel report which included three retirements and four resignations. Retirements presented include Charlotte Baker, a teacher at Beckham Bates Elementary School, Cathy Lee, a teacher at West Whitesburg Elementary School, and Hillard Howard, director of drug prevention/safe schools and LCCHS head football coach. Resignations presented include Brenda Sturgill, cook/baker at Arlie Boggs Elementary School, Kathy McFall, cook/baker at Fleming-Neon Elementary School, Mitchum Whitaker, a district-wide substitute bus driver, and Michael Burgess, a custodian at LCCHS.

• approved continuation of an attendance clerk position at Letcher Elementary School for five hours a day for 185 days, with the hours for the position being paid from the school’s allocated funds.

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