The student representative to the Letcher County Board of Education told the board that school culture at Letcher County Central High School needs improvement.
“In our school system there is a line of separation between the students and the teachers as well as with the students themselves,” said Jarrod Stamper, student representative to the school board. “There is no unity. Because of that, we are not producing the performance excellence I think we are capable of.”
Stamper told the board at Monday night’s meeting that he asked other students what they thought could be improved at the high school and more appreciation from administrators toward teachers and students was suggested.
“A pat on the back goes a long way,” said Stamper. “That can inspire them to do better and be better.”
Stamper said the gap between teachers and students needs to be bridged.
“Teachers are only as strong as their weakest students,” said Stamper. “I think that is completely true. There is always going to be that one student that maybe doesn’t follow and pick up on things as quick as the rest.”
Stamper said effort should be applied by teachers to try to get “that” student up to par with the rest of the class.
“If you are sitting in a room and everybody else had all of these good ideas and you didn’t have one and you were lost, how would you feel?” asked Stamper. “If nobody was making an effort to help you, what would you do? I think that is why we have dropouts.”
Stamper also wants the school staff to be more approachable.
“We want the staff to be approachable,” said Stamper. “That is not always the case at the high school. We have access to everybody, but actually going up to them and feeling comfortable to discuss anything, that’s not always there. There is always the intimidation factor when you get in front of somebody you don’t know or aren’t comfortable with.”
He suggested the high school honor students with rewards in addition to Cougar Pride Day.
“One reward day is not enough,” said Stamper.
Stamper said students would appreciate a reward for doing well in school and more rewards may inspire students to work harder.
He suggested that guidance counselors be more active with students.
“They should be designed to show us, help us and lead us to opportunity,” said Stamper. “The guidance counselors in the schools should be your most trusted individuals, the ones you can go to for anything because they are designed to be the one to help you go on to the next step.”
Stamper wants students to be made better aware of possible scholarship opportunities. He would also like college tours to be offered by the high school.
He said one way school culture can be improved is if seniors make recommendations at the end of each year.
“I know the goal of the education system is success for all students,” he said. “The only way that you are going to have effective school culture is if everyone works together.”
Letcher Schools Supt. Anna Craft thanked Stamper for giving his presentation and suggested he meet with LCCHS Principal Stephen Boggs and tell him the suggestions as well.
In other business, Glenda Coleman, district personnel secretary, addressed the board for the sec- ond meeting in a row concerning the calendar for classified employees.
Coleman asked the board to consider adding Memorial Day as a paid holiday.
“That would pretty much put us in line with the rest of the districts,” said Coleman.
Board Chairman Will Smith said the policy committee will revise the policy and will present a second reading at next month’s board meeting.
“If they want to consider it, they can,” said Smith. “If they don’t, they won’t.”
The board accepted as a first reading changes to a board policy pertaining to certified and classified personnel holidays. Classifi ed and certified employees will be paid for four holidays, which will be designated in the official school calendar. Full-time classifi ed and certified personnel who are employed for more than 185 days annually, will be paid for July 4. Additional paid holidays will be determined by the superintendent.
Terry Sturgill, director of special projects, said a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Letcher County Area Technology Center will be held at noon on Wednesday (today). Gov. Steve Beshear and other dignitaries are expected to be at the celebration.
Three seventh-grade students were acknowledged at the board meeting for receiving state recognition from the Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) for having high ACT composite scores for their age level. The students are Kirsten Sexton, a student at Arlie Boggs Elementary School; Iris Wynn, a student at Martha Jane Potter Elementary School; and Courtney Whitaker, a student at Whitesburg Middle School. They have the opportunity to go to Duke University this summer and participate in an academy.
Kenneth Cornett, director of pupil personnel, said the district has 44 less students enrolled than there were at this time last school year. District enrollment totals 3,219 and last year enrollment was at 3,263.
“Hopefully, the coal industry will turn around and we’ll stop losing some students,” said Cornett. “It may not be a factor, but I think it is some.”
Whitesburg Middle School had the highest attendance rate percentage for the eighth month of school with 93.69 percent. The district rate for the eighth month is 91.49.
The board also:
• named Mike Wright, a school bus driver, as employee of the month.
• accepted revisions to board policy 08.2323 AP .22 pertaining to teacher- and student-owned technology devices. All users of privately owned devices on the Letcher County School district network must adhere to requirements defined in the Letcher County Schools acceptable use policy. Only educational use of privately owned devices is allowed during instructional time. Students and staff members who bring privately owned technology devices to school are personally responsible for the equipment.
• accepted a first reading of a revision to a board policy concerning school attendance areas. All students are to be assigned by geographic attendance zones and are to attend the school in the designated area of residence. Schools are to enforce school attendance areas for all students enrolling after Nov. 28, 2011.
Pupils currently enrolled in schools outside the attendance zone and their siblings born prior to Feb. 27, 2011 can be grandfathered in that school un- til elementary or middle school promotion.
Tax documents in the name of the parent or guardian have been added to a list of proof of residency.
• approved out-of-state trips. The eighth-grade class of Whitesburg Middle School will take a trip to Charleston, S.C. May 4– May 6. The eighth-grade class of Cowan Elementary School will travel to Pigeon Forge, Tenn. on May 8. The eighth grade of Arlie Boggs Elementary School will visit Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, S.C. May 13–May 18. The band at Martha Jane Potter Elementary School will visit Dollywood May 17.
• approved overnight trips. The eighth-grade class at Letcher Elementary School will visit Frankfort and Louisville May 9 and May 10. The Letcher County Central High School JROTC will travel to Richmond May 26 for a cadet leadership challenge. The LCCHS boys’ basketball team will participate in a camp in Lexington June 5–June 8.
• approved a facility rental agreement with Kentucky River Community Care for a Summer Splash Day Program at West Whitesburg Elementary School from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. May 14–June 28.
• approved the operation of a Summer Feeding Program. Any child less than 19 can participate. LCCHS and Fleming-Neon Elementary School will serve as preparation and feeding sites.
• entered into a lease agreement with the Letcher County Fiscal Court for use of the baseball fields located at Earnest Cook Park off of the Whitesburg Bypass. LCCHS softball practices and games will be played at the site. Cost is $2,500 a year.
• established an itinerant district-wide middle school Spanish teacher position. Craft said offering Spanish classes at the middle school level will help meet requirements of Senate Bill One.
• learned of the resignation of Alison Little, a substitute teacher.
The next board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 21 in the Lendell Smith Memorial Room of the Letcher County School Bus Garage.