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Letcher Board of Education remembers Attwell Turner




A black bow was draped over former Letcher County Board of Education member Attwell Turner’s seat at last week’s board meeting. The January 28 board meeting was the first meeting since Turner, 75, died of a sudden illness December 21.

“We have a vacant seat tonight for Mr. Attwell Turner,” said Anna Craft, superintendent of the Letcher County School System. “We asked his family to be here tonight and we have prepared a little memorial for him.”

Audience members cried as a slide show presentation of family and school photos of Turner were shown to honor him.

Craft said Turner made one of the greatest impacts in such a short time while just serving on the board three years.

“He was a great advocate for children and employees. If he thought something was right he would stand by it no matter what,” said Craft.

Craft shared a memory she has of Turner.

“In our long past history, we had a little squabble with the state and he was always there and I will never forget that,” said Craft. “Each of us has our memories of him. They are good memories we will always treasure.”

“Every single minute of every single day, he had the children of this county at heart,” said Stephen Boggs, principal of Letcher County Central High School.

The board affirmed that it has publicly examined anticipated revenue and expenditures for the 2008-2009 fiscal year in a draft budget format recommended by the Kentucky Department of Education.

Roger Martin, finance officer for the district, has estimated that the 2008-2009 budget will have a general fund of $21,866,870. Martin has budgeted $127,000 on payment for school buses, $75,000 to match a technology grant and $100,000 for plumbing problems at Fleming-Neon Elementary School.

Martin has budgeted $649,948 in the budget contingency, which is 2.2 percent of the budget. He said at least two percent is required to be in the budget contingency.

Martin said if the SEEK (Support Education Excellence in Kentucky) allocation is cut seven percent by legislature, the school system would lose $1.1 million.

“The best advice I can give you is to monitor the legislative session and that will give you the best idea of where we are heading,” said Martin. “We heard in the news that SEEK was going to get a reduction and (the Kentucky Department of Education) thinks we won’t see a seven percent reduction,” he said.

“If we could get through next year in the black we would really be flying high,” said Martin.

In other news, Twlya Messer, principal of Beckham Bates Elementary School, was named employee of the month.

Eugene Meade, director of Southeast Community College and Technical School, discussed a grant the Letcher County Community Alliance Advisory Council received which will help finance a prescription diversion curriculum that will be taught in an after-school setting.

Meade said each school will receive $7,000 for drug prevention education.

Jim Slone, director of operations, updated the board on the plumbing problems at Fleming- Neon Elementary School. He said the access areas to the pipes are galvanized as well as a few of the discharge lines. Slone said Breeding’s Plumbing and Electric estimated that it would cost $68,000 to fix the plumbing two years ago.

“This is one that is on the radar. It’s something that we are constantly repairing until funds become available. We do need to make you aware of it,” said Craft.

Kenneth Cornett, director of pupil personnel, said the district attendance rate for the fifth month of the school year is 92.5 percent.

“Our achievement for our district is hindered by our attendance and we need to seek ways to improve,” said Cornett.

Cornett said he made 25 home visits last month to talk to parents about why their children are missing so many school days.

Board member Sam Quillen Jr. asked what Cornett sees when he visits a home.

“What I see when I go is unreal apathy. We have students living in bad situations,” said Cornett. “Many times when I go, there are at least two adults living there who do not work.”

The board held a public forum 30 minutes before the regular meeting to discuss nutrition and physical fitness in the school system.

“I would say that our cafeteria food is really good. Cora started long before everyone else trying to get the sugar out,” said Craft. Cora Sturgill is the school system’s food service director.

A parent asked if the school system is going to hire physical education teachers for every school.

“Well, we would certainly like to have one in every school but the way the economy is we will be lucky not to lose any teachers,” said Craft.

The board also:

• re-elected Will Smith as chairman of the board and Terry Cornett as vice-chairman.

“I’d like to thank you all for having confidence in me to lead the district for another year,” said Smith.

“It’s been a really enjoyable experience and I look forward to another year,” said Cornett.

• approved the Letcher County Central wrestling team’s request to travel to Castlewood, Va., on January 9 and to Ashland and Huntington, W.Va., on January 18 and 19. Arlie Boggs Elementary School also gained approval from the board to travel to Louisville and Washington, D.C. March 31 through April 3.

• approved the LCCHS basketball team’s request to take an overnight trip to Larue County January 25 and 26. The LCCHS baseball team will travel to Montgomery County April 4 for a tournament. The baseball team will also participate in a tournament in Madison County April 18 and 19. Letcher County ATC will travel to Richmond March 12 for regional competition.

• appointed Quillen to serve as the Letcher County Board of Education Legislative Network representative. The representative will take the lead for the local board in legislative affairs.

• approved a Readers’ Digest fund-raiser for West Whitesburg Elementary School. Proceeds from the fund-raiser will be used to support instructional field trips and attendance incentives.

• accepted an offer of assistance from the school facilities construction commission in the amount of $55,148 annual debt service on bonds to be sold for proposed construction or major renovation of facilities outlined in the most current approved facility plan.

• approved contracts for pupil accounting on non-resident pupils as negotiated with each school system – Jenkins Independent, Pike County, Harlan Independent, Harlan County, Knott County, Perry County, Hazard Independent and Pikeville Independent.

• ratified a master agreement with the Commonwealth of Kentucky for the Family Resource and Youth Services Centers grant. The modification is to increase the allocation to the Whitesburg area Family Resource and Youth Service Center (FRYSC) by $9,870 for students not counted in the December 1, 2006 free lunch information. The previous contract amount was $824,484 and the new contract amount is $834,354.

• approved continuation of a service agreement with ASAP Consulting valid from November 20, 2007 through November 20, 2008 to provide onsite drug screening services. Saliva screen on-site service costs $23.50 with an annual minimum volume of 1,300.

• approved the memorandum of understanding with Kentucky River District Health Department for an emergency management plan to provide for adequate assessment and preparations in emergency situations.

• approved a memorandum of agreement with Letcher County Jailer Don McCall that in the event of a natural disaster or other foreseen catastrophic event requiring mass evacuation of all inmates of the Letcher County Jail, the Letcher County School System will provide an accurate number of buses to use for transporting inmates to an alternate detention facility.

• appointed Linda Setzer as the board secretary at a rate of $5,000 a year.

“Linda is super. She does a wonderful job for us and I don’t know what we would do without her,” said Smith.

• approved payment of claims for services rendered for the construction of the Letcher County Central High School baseball field to Elliott Contracting, Inc., for $140,268.60.

Terry Sturgill, assistant superintendent said the construction of the baseball field seems to be on track.

“They’re doing what they can in the mud. I think it is on schedule,” said Sturgill.

Craft said Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance Company is going to purchase a scoreboard for the baseball field.

• approved the financial report, payment of bills and transfers and payments of salaries for January 2008.

Martin reported that the general ledger balance contains $4,495,482.52.

• approved revising the extra service/extended employment salary schedule to include a speech/drama coach position for each school, with Letcher County Central High School receiving two coaches. Payment will be $1,500 each year.

• approved the meeting dates and locations for the 2008 calendar year. All meetings for the 2008 school year will be held in the Lendell Smith Memorial Conference Room located in the Letcher County School Bus Garage. The dates are: February 18, March 24, April 28, May 19, June 23, July 28, August 25, September 22, October 27, November 24 and December 22.

In the personnel report, Charles Brent Hall has been employed as a teacher at Beckham Bates Elementary School. Amanda Black has been hired as a program assistant II early steps coordinator for Save the Children at Beckham Bates Elementary School. This is a classified position.

The board entered into executive session at 8:50 p.m. “to discuss litigation, personnel and/or property.” The board came out of executive session at 9:40 p.m. and Smith reported that no action was taken in executive session.


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