Whitesburg KY

Letcher board OK’s raises for teachers and workers

Letcher County Schools’ teachers and classified employees will get a raise – albeit a small one – for the coming school year.

Board members said they want the district’s finance department to continue looking for a way to give more before the year begins.

The board on Monday night unanimously approved a 2 percent raise for certified employees and a 25-cent per hour raise for classified employees after members of the Kentucky Educational Support Personnel Association and the Letcher County Teacher’s Organization asked the board for more money for classified employees in light of the work they have done over the past year during the pandemic.

While board members said they wanted more of a raise, they also said they do not want to give raises that cannot be maintained without laying off employees.

“We value our employees,” Superintendent Denise Yonts assured them. “It has been a rough year, and they have done double duty.”

While the increases are small, Yonts said the district will continue to look at ways to improve it. But, she said, the 25-cent raise for classified will at least be a start.

“Twenty-five-cents an hour is more than two percent for our lowest paid employees,” she said.

Tony Sergent, retired superintendent who now works in the district’s finance office, said the district does have enough money to sustain that raise.

“With that, we can still run in the black and not go in the red,” he said.

Board member Wi l l Smith said he wished the board could do more.

“Next year, look at the classified first,” he said.

Board Member Robert Kiser said one priority is to stretch the district’s money without laying anyone off, instead cutting payroll by not refilling some positions that have been vacated by retirements and resignations.

“We have done away with some positions, but nobody has lost their job,” he said.

Also at the meeting Monday night, the board voted to give Yonts the authority to do whatever is necessary to see that schools open on time. Yonts said with the summer school and summer camps offered to help students who missed more than a year of school because of COVID-19, summer has seemed very short. School returns to in-person five-day-per-week classes on August 4, barely a month away.

Ronnie Goins, Director of Instruction, said the district had large turnouts for camp and for summer school. He said 16 to 17 preschoolers who had never seen the inside of a classroom came to camp every day, and 28 seniors earned their diplomas by going to summer school. He said camp had one more day of science projects, and he planned to attend.

“I’ve got all my days in, but I’m a science nerd and I’m going back,” Goins said.

The board heard reports from the transportation and finance departments as well as the from the instructional department. As of Monday, the board had cash balance of $15,497,239.

The board also held a closed session to discuss litigation. No action was taken.

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