Whitesburg KY

Letcher board declines donation that would have kept new class

The Letcher County Board of Education has declined an offer of $16,000 from an anonymous donor to help fund the salary of a law enforcement instructor.

The new law enforcement and criminal justice program, which the board created in December, has been at a standstill since the board decided at its June meeting not to contribute $15,993.91 to fund the instructor position.

Jenkins resident James Sexton addressed the board at Monday night’s meeting on behalf of an anonymous donor.

“In the newspaper it was said $16,000 was needed for the law and justice program,” said Sexton. “I was asked by an anonymous donor to come here tonight and tell you that he will donate the $16,000 to complete the salary. We are hoping you will create the position.”

The board formed a partnership with the Letcher County Area Technology Center in December to establish a criminal law teaching position under the umbrella of the vocational school. Board Chairman Robert Kiser and Board Member Mendy Boggs were sworn in as board members in January.

“That position would be one that goes through the vocational school,” said Kiser. “My personal opinion on that is I think that since it is not a Letcher County Public Schools school that they should offer the money to the OCTE (Office of Career and Technical Education) to fund that program. If they go to the OCTE to donate the money to fund the program it would be completely away from us because ultimately OCTE had the rest of the money.”

The district was awarded $40,000 during the end of 2012 from the mineral holding company Kentucky River Properties LLC to help fund the new program. The total cost needed to fund the criminal law teaching position is $55,885, with $40,433 for the salary and $15,452 in fringe benefits. OCTE has offered to provide $23,946, a sum of money that became available after a teacher’s aide position was vacated. Another portion totaling $15,945 was provided by a grant from Kentucky River Properties LLC, leaving $15,993.91 needed to fully fund the position.

Board Member Wi l l Smith said some of the funding for the instructor’s position was “kind of verbally designated” from Kentucky River Properties LLC.

“It was just verbally, nothing in writing,” said Smith. “I understand the money is in the general fund. That is where we are.”

Smith said the law and justice program has stimulated a lot of interest in the community.

“It is tough for us to get into the business of hiring state employees,” said Smith. “It’s a program that we really need. Our kids can benefit from it. If and when a federal prison comes in kids will have a leg up of having a few courses there.”

Smith said the program could potentially help students obtain jobs with a federal prison planned for Letcher County.

The board approved budgeting $28,000 during its Dec. 17 meeting to purchase materials and supplies needed to divide vacant space at the technology center to create classroom areas, a courtroom and a virtual shooting range needed for the new program.

Kiser suggested the board take offer of the donation under advisement.

“I think the first thing that should be done with that though is before coming to us to make a donation go to OCTE to make the donation to them directly because ultimately that’s what we would be doing is taking money from them and turning right back around and giving it to OCTE for the school,” said Kiser.

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