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Letcher schools get 4 good used buses; scoreboard replaced

The Letcher County Board of Education will retire more buses now that the school district has been able to buy four school buses from a larger Kentucky school district.

“ It’s a godsend in my opinion,” said Supt. Tony Sergent. “ We got really lucky.”

Sergent had told the school board earlier that the district’s 52-bus fleet included seven school buses that are at least 15 years old. Since 2008, 11 new buses have been purchased in the district.

The district’s budget for the 2014–2015 school year includes $200,000 to buy two buses. The board agreed in October to take $289,000 from the contingency fund and purchase three more buses.

At its meeting December 15, the board agreed to buy four 2007 model buses from Oldham County School District, which is located 20 miles northeast of Louisville. The board is spending about $10,000 on each of the four buses. The $40,000 will come from district’s contingency fund.

“Remember when I said I didn’t think we could solve our bus problem because we’d never have the money?”, Sergent asked the board during Monday night’s meeting. “This goes a long way.”

Letcher Assistant Supt. Twyla Messer said the Oldham County buses are low mileage and are in excellent condition.

“It’s beginning to put our fleet in good shape so we can get rid of all of our buses that are older,” said Messer.

All 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 model school buses will be taken off the roads this coming school year, Sergent said.

In other business, Kenny Cornett, district director of pupil personnel, told the board that 21 students have withdrawn from the district. The district’s enrollment is 42 students less than it was in December 2013.

“It’s something to keep track of,” said Cornett.

Messer told the board that the large video screen at Letcher County Central High School’s football field has been replaced.

Lightning struck one of two computers used to operate the Jumbo Tron-style screen before the opening football game on August 23. The eight-year-old computer’s hard drive, which contained software to play ads and instant replays, was also fried, said Randy Bailey, district technology director.

A claim was submitted to the district’s insurance company. After an investigation was completed, the insurance company paid the claim. A new large video screen was installed about two weeks ago. The electronics used to control the screen were also replaced in the insurance claim.

“I can’t wait to see it operational,” said Messer.

The original video screen was purchased in 2005 with a $150,000 donation from Pine Mountain Lumber.

A two-sided, programmable sign for Letcher County Central High School has been ordered. The sign, funded by the Letcher County Education Foundation, will be placed perpendicular to the road at Ermine.

Monday night’s meeting was the last meeting for board members Dr. Sam Quillen Jr. and Terry Cornett, who didn’t attend the meeting. The rest of the board and district administrators bid Quillen farewell.

“From construction of the new high school to the reconfigurations of our middle schools and elementary schools, you’ve seen a lot,” said Sergent. “We appreciate your services. You board members know that you do this because you want to help, not because you are getting paid.”

Quillen said he based his decisions on “what is good for the kids.”

“It’s been a labor of love working with all of these fine people,” said Quillen.

Quillen steered the committee that made recommendations to the board concerning the creation of LCCHS. Quillen advocated for the construction of the Letcher County Area Technology Center. He served on the board when Beckham Bates and Kingdom Come elementary schools were closed.

“When you put yourself into a position to make judgments and put yourself on boards and committees, you can expect some criticism,” said Quillen. “You can expect some strife in your life. When it is all said and done and you can look and see where we are, it has made it all worthwhile.”

Board Chairman Will Smith said that Quillen and Cornett are two of the best board members that Letcher County has ever had.

“ You are going out on a good note,” Smith told Quillen. “Everything is going good now. We’ve got the budget back in line. Test scores are up.”

Cornett was vice chairman of the board for 15 of the 20 years he served on the school board. Quillen had been a member of the school board for 11½ years total.

Cornett and Quillen didn’t run for re-election in November.

Erica Scott and Lena Parsons will be sworn in as the newest members of the board at the beginning of the January 26 board meeting at the Letcher County School Bus Garage.

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