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Letcher board delays action on team’s plan to go to the Bahamas

The Letcher County Board of Education will not decide whether to let the Letcher County Central High School basketball team travel to the Bahamas next December until the board meets with the principal, basketball coaches and ball players’ parents.

“I have some serious concerns with allowing athletic team or any school group to leave the country,” said Board Chairman Robert Kiser at the meeting held March 27. “I don’t know how everybody else feels about that, but with the way the world has gotten today it would concern me with the team leaving the country.”

Kiser said it would be different if the team was traveling somewhere in the United States instead of the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.

“If they are going to Miami, Fla., is one thing because if something happens we can get to Miami, but once they go into another jurisdiction that creates a big concern for me,” said Kiser. “I would like to table that one until we get some more information on that.”

In other business, Dan Brennan, a band director and music teacher, asked the board to not approve a district staffing plan that included a change in the number of teachers, schools served and scope.

“Because of our commitment we have seen exemplary growth in both the numbers of the program and we’ve seen a great growth in the performance level,” said Brennan. “You can’t perform on the streets of Washington, D.C. for the President of the United States if you’re stinky. The commitment that we see in our program is extraordinary.”

Brennan told the board that music, instrumental music and band are viable courses in a student’s education.

“We’ve lost some teachers in the last couple of years,” said Brennan. “I don’t want to see that happen.”

Dr. Jason Griffith, LCCHS band director, asked the board to continue offering music classes in the district at the caliber they are now.

“To implore the integrity of the leaders of the board here as a parent that after Mrs. Craft retires that we honor her commitment and the commitment of the board before us to honor having instrumental music every day for our students in grades five through eight,” said Griffith.

The staffing plan for the 2013–2014 school year did include a reduction of one position in the music department.

Letcher County Public Schools Supt. Anna Craft said the position concerned piano labs.

“We’re stretched really, really thin right now,” said Brennan. “Right now our staff is smaller than it has ever been in my career.”

Craft said that music is her passion.

“I have supported and stretched everything to save music, but if you also look we have less elementary counselors and they will tell you they are stretched,” she said. “As long as I am here I will be a good steward of what we have. I think that is one place we can go to four people. All five are tenured and we are not getting rid of anyone.”

Board Member Wi l l Smith said he didn’t want the board to hurt a program that the board has worked hard to build up.

“I definitely want to see that one put back,” said Kiser . e

Th board approved putting the one music position back into the staffing allocation plan for next school year.

Board Member Mendy Boggs asked how many schools will be losing teachers next school year.

Craft said five elementary and middle school positions will be reduced and one position will be added at the high school.

The board was given a textbook projection estimate sheet for grades kindergarten through eighth grade. The estimate is $236,687.25 for reading textbooks and $137,876 for math books.

“We’ve got to provide the resources initially,” said Kiser. “We’re in that phase of trying to figure out how much it is going to cost.”

Kiser said the board will need to figure out what can be cut out of the budget to have money to purchase textbooks.

Craft asked if the estimate includes electronic additions to use with iPads or other tablets, and Randy Bailey, district director of technology, said it would cost about $15 per book to pay for the licensing fees to use the apps for six years.

“With a paper book if something happens and you can’t renew after six years, at least you still have a paper book,” said Bailey. “If you go digital only, at the end of those six years you have nothing left. You don’t have a right to use it anymore.”

Linda Hall, district director of curriculum and instruction, said parents love books.

“When you want to talk to them about a homework problem they want a book,” said Hall.

Kiser said he has tried to help his son with math homework and had difficulty because he didn’t have a textbook to learn how to complete the assignment.

“I’ve had my son bring home homework where you have a printout of math problems to do and he needs help and I’m trying to help him,” said Kiser. “I’m looking at it and I can’t figure it out. I don’t have the example to go back to and there you are. So at that point it was hard for me to be mad at him for not having his homework done when I couldn’t help him to do it.”

Bailey recommended the website www.khanacademy.com for help with homework.

“If you have Internet access it’s awesome,” said Bailey. “You can’t go wrong with it. It starts at one-plusone and goes all the way to advanced calculus.”

Twyla Messer, assistant superintendent, said more than 100 high school students have signed up for classes through the law and justice program that will begin in the fall at the Letcher County Area Technology Center. An application process will be conducted to determine who will be enrolled in the classes because class size is limited.

Messer said a large room in the vo-tech building is being renovated into a mock courtroom and classroom area.

“It’s going to be fabulous,” said Messer. “It is going to be an awesome opportunity for our students.”

The district attendance rate, which is 92.64 percent, is at the same percentage this school year as it was this time last year, said Kenny Cornett, district director of pupil personnel.

If no more days of school are missed because of inclement weather or other unforeseen reasons, the last day of the 2012-2013 school year is set for May 21.

Kiser said that a parent had asked him about students participating in open gyms on school days that were canceled because of inclement weather.

“Obviously, if it is too dangerous to be in school we can’t make them be there,” said Kiser, who helps coach archery.

Craft said it can’t be held against a student for not attending open gym when school is canceled and if a parent says someone has violated the rule then the or she needs to notify the principal.

The board also named:

• Martha Whitaker, secretary of Martha Jane Potter Elementary School, as employee of the month.

• approved the first reading of revisions to board policies concerning physical restraint and release of records to state child welfare agency.

• approved a contract with D-C Elevator Co. Inc, for maintenance of elevators located at LCCHS, Letcher County Area Technology Center and Fleming- Neon Middle School.

• approved a contract with the Commonwealth of Kentucky for modification of Family Resource and Youth Service Center (FRYC) funds for 2013. Letcher County will receive $362,082.

• accepted the Kentucky Department of Education audit acceptance statement stating that the board has chosen White & Associates to audit the financial accounts of the board for the 2012–2013 school year. Cost is $19,850.

• learned of the certified employment of Billy Keith Adams as a teacher at LCCHS and Charles J. Holbrook as a special education teacher at Cowan Elementary School.

• learned that Deborah Frazier is the new LCCHS head girls’ track coach and Winston Lee is an assistant girls’ track coach.

• learned of the classified resignations of Jamie Fields, a cook/baker at LCCHS; Cathy Hall, a substitute secretary; Zohira Hutton, a substitute custodian and substitute cook/baker; James Moore, a substitute custodian and substitute cook/baker; Tara Ritchie, a substitute program assistant II, and Zackary Turpin, a substitute custodian and substitute cook/baker.

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