Whitesburg KY

Letcher board votes to charge for school trips

Because the price of diesel fuel keeps rising, the Letcher County Board of Education decided at its May meeting that incounty school trips are no longer free.

The board approved a 50- cent-per-mile rate to all school groups for in-county trips, which will mainly affect elementary athletic and academic teams. The board approved an 85-cent-permile rate for out-of-county trips. These rates are based on the diesel pump price being set at $4. The rate would increase 10 cents every time the pump price jumps 50 cents. If the pump price increases to $4.50, the per mile rate would increase by 10 cents to 95 cents per mile.

Anna Craft, superintendent of the Letcher County School System, told the board that it may need to look at making more adjustments in the future if the price of diesel fuel keeps rising.

“No one is going to be able to afford it,” said Craft. “There is no end in sight.”

The board budgeted $260,000 for diesel fuel for the 2007-08 school year and has spent $330,000 for diesel fuel so far. Roger Martin, district finance officer, told the board that he has budgeted $500,000 for diesel fuel for the 2008-09 school year.

Martin said he hopes the school board will end the 2007- 08 school year with $716,256.88. Martin said the board had to account for extra money spent on diesel fuel, food service and the special education program. Martin estimated the additional costs to be $35,000 to $50,000 on food service and $30,000 on special education.

Martin estimated the beginning balance of the budget for the 2008-09 school year to be $1.3 million. The budget includes $35,000 for technology, $140,000 for purchase of two buses, and $100,000 for plumbing problems at Fleming-Neon Elementary School.

The budget also includes a one percent increase for both certified and classified employees. The raise cost $118,000 for certified employees and $36,000 for classified employees. Martin said state gave $99,000 to pay for the raise for certified staff approved by the legislature.

In other news, Regina Brown, president of the Letcher County Teachers Organization, asked the board to consider five certified and classified benefits that the Knott County School System has in place.

Brown asked the board to consider letting employees purchase sick leave used during the current school year for $60 a day for certified employees and $40 a day for classified employees.

“I know it has its good’s and its bad’s, but it is something we wanted you to consider,” said Brown.

Brown suggested that survivors of employees who die before they are eligible for retirement be compensated for the unused sick leave.

Brown also would like unused emergency leave to accumulate the same way as sick leave is accumulated.

“If those days meant more maybe they wouldn’t be burned as much,” said Brown. “For teachers like me who don’t burn these, this would be a reward.”

Brown would like new hires to automatically be members of the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), National Education Association (NEA), or Kentucky Educational Support Professional Association (KESPA), Letcher County Teachers Organization (LCTO), or Letcher County Educational Support Personnel and Kentucky Educators’ Political Action Committee (KEPAC). The board would deduct the dues of the organizations from the salaries of new employees. If the new employee didn’t want to be a member of any organization, then he or she could request to not be a member.

Brown, as president of the Letcher County Teachers Organization, would like to be notified if any members drop their membership from the NEA, KEA or KESPA, LCTO or LCESP and KEPAC.

In other news, Paul David Sturgill, a science teacher and Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) coordinator at Letcher County Central High School, has been named employee of the month.

Board member Dr. Sam Quillen Jr. said construction of the baseball field at Letcher County Central High School is starting to take shape.

“It is starting to look more like a baseball field,” said Quillen.

He said the warning track is finished and the metal roofing should arrive this week.

Kenneth Cornett, director of pupil personnel, said the district’s attendance rate for the 2007-08 school year is 91.8 percent. Last school year’s attendance rate was 91.76 percent.

In the personnel report, Martin Joe Adams, a teacher at LCCHS, and Windell Ritchie, a custodian at Whitesburg Middle School, presented their retirements.

William Dickie Adams has been hired as the LCCHS volleyball coach.

Pamela Blair, Charles Brent Hall and Belinda Shea Jacobs received non-renewal of contract letters for the 2008-09 school year.

The following classified personnel received non-renewal of contract letters for the 2008-09 school year: Elizabeth Adams, Jessica Adams, Terri Bailey, Vivian Banks, William Banks, Barbara Begley, Amanda Black, Olivia Blair, Jennifer Boggs, Melinda Boggs, Mattie Collins, Tammy Cook, Linda Craiger, Lisa Elkins, Jacqueline Hall, April Hammonds, Sheila Holbrook, Kristi Jackson, Nawonia Martin, Patricia Miles, Deanna Mullins, Misty Richardson, Michele Robinson, Diane Sexton, Melissa Shepherd, Cecilia Smith, Sallie Sparkman, Michael Sparks, April Stevens, Adrienne Sturgill, Donna Sturgill, Megan Sumpter, and Linda Yonts.

The board also:

• approved Kentucky River Community Care to have a Summer Splash program at West Whitesburg Elementary School May 20 through July 24.

• approved the award of bids for the following items for the Letcher County School System for the 2008-09 school year: refrigeration repairs, Banks Refrigeration and Anderson Refrigeration Service; batteries, Interstate; filters, Fleetpride; custodial supplies and HVAC material, B.W.B. Enterprises; and paving, Mountain Enterprise.

• approved participating in the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative bidding process for the 2008-09 school year for the following items: school pictures, athletic equipment, pest control, bread and bread products, milk and milk products, food and supplies, paper, instructional supplies, and custodial supplies.

• approved amending the 2007-08 school calendar to reflect May 14 as being the last day of school for students and May 15 being the closing day for teachers. The last day of school for students at Beckham Bates Elementary School was May 15 and the closing day for teachers was May 16.

• approved the 2008-09 pay dates. All employees of the Letcher County School System are paid every two weeks for a total of 27 times.

Classroom teachers begin August 13 and will receive their first pay on August 1. Classified employees will receive their first pay on August 15. Classroom teachers end July 31, 2009 and classified employees end August 14, 2009.

The pay dates are: July 4, July 18, August 1, August 15, August 29, September 12, September 26, October 10, October 24, November 7, November 21, December 5, December 19, January 2, January 16, January 30, February 13, February 27, March 13, March 27, April 10, April 24, May 8, May 22, June 5, June 19, July 3, July 17, July 31 and August 14.

• approved the 2008-09 salary schedule for certified and classified employees, which includes a one percent increase on the certified and classified salary schedule as mandated by the legislature.

• accepted a Save the Children grant in the amount of $468,395. Schools participating in the grant are Arlie Boggs, Cowan, Letcher and Beckham Bates elementary schools. The board also approved the continuation and establishment of the following Save the Children positions: one district level coordinator, three literacy coordinators, four change coordinators, seven literacy tutors, two Early Steps to School Success coordinators and two certified teacher positions.

• continued a lease agreement with the City of Whitesburg and the Letcher County Parks and Recreation for use of the Whitesburg tennis courts.

• approved the Migrant Services contract for the 2008-09 school year.

• approved a multiple bid award for soft drinks for the 2008-09 school year to Pepsi and Royal Crown Cola. Board member Mike Harris, who is employed by Pepsi, abstained from voting.

• approved a multiple bid for fruit drinks and water to Pepsi and Coca Cola for the food service program for the 2008-09 school year. Harris abstained from voting.

• approved the following payment of claims for construction of the baseball field at LCCHS: Elliott Contracting, $87,372.90.

• approved the financial report, payment of bills and transfers and payment of salaries for May 2008. Roger Martin, district finance officer, reported the general ledger balance having $4,772,693.11.

• approved the tentative budget for the 2008-09 school year as presented by Martin.

A motion was made at 8:10 p.m. to enter into executive session to discuss litigation, personnel and/or property. The board came out of executive session at 8:40 p.m. and Will Smith said no action was taken while in executive session.

The next board meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on June 23 at the Letcher County School Bus Garage.

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