Whitesburg KY
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Letcher board okay’s budget of $33 million

The Letcher County Board of Education has approved a projected operating budget of $33 million for the 206-17 school year.

Brian Johnson, the Letcher district’s finance officer, said the 2016-17 budget is on track to mirror the 2015-16 budget.

Johnson calculated the general fund at $24,121,901, with salaries accounting for 78 percent. Payroll includes $11,059,080 for certified employee salaries and $3,773,104 for classified salaries. Fringe benefits will cost the district $3,590,503. The budget also includes $374,214 for substitute teachers.

Transportation expenditures are expected to cost the district $1.2 million — $400,000 for fuel, $500,000 for parts, tires and lubricants, and $300,000 for three new school buses.

Utility costs are expected to total $1,087,000 — $890,000 for electricity, $137,000 for water and $60,000 for garbage.

Johnson said $529,051 is budgeted for insurance — $195,634 for workers comp, $102,309 for property, $71,444 for auto, $40,340 for excess liability and $119,324 for student insurance.

The budget for the upcoming school year includes $222,000 to purchase reading textbooks for kindergarten through fifth grades.

In addition to the general fund, the district has $282,000 projected for the construction fund, $1,056,090 in the FSPK (Faculty Support Program of Kentucky) nickel tax fund, $2,421,759 in the food service fund and $4,045,163 of federal money in a special revenue fund.

The contingency fund consists of six percent of the general fund.

“We came a long way from three or four years ago when we were barely getting the two percent that (the state) requires,” said Johnson.

Board Member Robert Kiser said the larger contingency fund is a reflection of Supt. Tony Sergent’s leadership.

State funding, SEEK (Support Education Excellence in Kentucky), is estimated to total $15,785,901. County funding is projected to generate $4.6 million — $2.5 million in property tax collections, $1.5 in utility tax collections and $600,000 in motor vehicle tax collections.

In other business at its May meeting, the board hired Whitesburg architect Bill Richardson to provide architectural services for a boiler replacement project at Arlie Boggs Elementary School. The scope of work calls for the removal of a coal-fired boiler and instillation of a liquid propane gas boiler. Richardson estimates the project to cost around $50,000. The board voted to advertise the project for bids in The Mountain Eagle.

Sergent told the board he is hopeful that the project will be completed before school starts back in August.

Asst. Supt. Twyla Messer pointed out odd expenditures for April and May. The district spent $12,705 on floor tile for Letcher Elementary School. Removal of asbestos from Letcher Elementary School began May 25 and is expected to be completed before school is back in session.

Messer said the district purchased bear-proof Dumpsters totaling $6,000. Sergent suggested that the welding class at the vocational school make bear-proof Dumpsters when more are needed.

Kenneth Cornett, district director of pupil personnel, said the district ended the 2015-16 school year with an enrollment of 3,091, which is eight less students than at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Cornett said the district is projected to have 40 less kindergarten students in the upcoming school year than it did in the 2015-16 school year.

The board also:

• learned of the resignations of Whitney Bolling, a teacher at West Whitesburg Elementary School, and Chelsey Mayo, a teacher at Letcher County Central High School.

• approved student accident coverage insurance at a total premium of $119,323.56 through Roberts Insurance for the upcoming school year.

• authorized the district to purchase from state price contracts for the 2016- 17 school year.

• authorized Sergent to submit applications to qualify for Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funds for the upcoming school year.

• accepted an agreement with Midway University for student teaching placements for the 2016-17 school year.

• approved the Community Eligibility Provision Intent to Participate agreement for the upcoming school year. This program makes it possible for the district to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students.

• approved an employment agreement with Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative (KVEC) for Sandy Hogg to serve as an Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI) student and community wellness leader for the 2016-17 school year. KVEC agrees to pay the Letcher district $76,860.

• approved a non-resident agreement with Jenkins Independent Schools for Letcher County Public Schools to educate 153 students who reside in the Jenkins district.

• approved a membership agreement with Kentucky Educational Development Corporation for the upcoming school year. Membership fees total $2,581.10.

• approved a contract with Index Blue, Inc. to provide web hosting services for the 2016-17 school year at a cost of $4,800.

• approved the financial report, payment of claims, transfers and salaries for April. Johnson reported a bank balance of $8,048,897.45 as of April 30.

Board Chairman Will Smith made a motion at 7:24 p.m. to go into closed session to discuss an individual employee and potential litigation involving Michelle Murphy, who claims she slipped and fell at Cowan Elementary School in 2013.

Smith said no action was taken during the closed session.

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