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Letcher schools losing students



Student enrollment in Letcher County Public Schools is leveling off, according to Terry Sturgill, director of special projects.

The district total enrollment for the 10th day of the current school year was 3,258, down 49 students from this time last year. Ten years ago, 3,447 were enrolled on the 10th day of classes.

“Over the course of 10 years we have lost about 200,” Sturgill told the Letcher County Board of Education at its August meeting Monday. “It has leveled off. If we ever get some industry, I think we will see those numbers go up.”

In other business, Martha Jane Potter Elementary School kindergarten aide Nancy Ratliff was named employee of the month. Sandy Hogg, director of special programs for the district, pointed out that while Ratliff was an aide at Fleming- Neon Elementary School last year she made sure products containing peanut butter or tree nuts were not brought into the school. School offi cials banned products containing the foods because a student was allergic to them.

“We do have quite a few children in Letcher County who do have severe, life-threatening allergies to peanuts and it is hard. If your children love peanut butter you don’t understand that,” said Letcher Schools Supt. Anna Craft. “I was talking to an attorney downtown and he was telling me how a member of their family had been sitting at a table and somebody went by with something with peanut butter in it and that child died. If you have a healthy child, you can’t understand it can be that fatal. We do need some of you to understand that, yes, your child may like to have a lot of peanut butter, but if you would stop and think, you wouldn’t let your (own) child be in endangered by anything.”

Craft said she visited FNES last year and was told by Ratliff that she couldn’t bring in a bag of animal crackers she had with her because the cookies were produced in a factory where peanuts and tree nuts were present. Craft said more schools in the county have become peanut-free facilities.

“Not only do we do that to protect our children, but it is the law,” said Craft. “We ask you to bear with us and we try to protect our kids.”

Sturgill also reported to the board that construction of the Letcher County Central High School softball field is underway.

In a related matter, Board Member Dr. Sam Quillen Jr. said he recently attended a middle school football game at Letcher and was pleased with the large crowd.

“It was a fun, fun evening,” said Quillen.

Board Chairman Will Smith said more bleachers are needed.

“All the bleachers were full,” said Smith. “People were standing around.” Asst. Supt. Twyla Messer said the problem would be taken care of.

The board has decided not to charge school volunteers $10 for criminal background checks and will fund the process itself.

“The volunteers do lots and lots of things for our schools,” said Hogg.

The board approved paying $29,966.54 to Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects for architectural work and design for the LCCHS softball field.

The board also approved the financial report, payment of bills and transfers and payment of July salaries. Gary Caldwell, district finance officer, said the district has a bank balance of $4,422,886.20.

The board also approved the superintendent’s personnel report, which included a list of resignations and employments.

Certified resignations include Paula Adams, a substitute teacher; Sarah Frazier, an assistant softball coach for LCCHS; Tracee Scheele, high school band assistant; Suzanna Taylor, a substitute teacher; Lesia Whitaker, director of curriculum and instruction; and Michael Whitaker, a teacher at LCCHS.

Oscar Back, a teacher at Letcher Middle School, and Michael Potter, a teacher at West Whitesburg Elementary School, have retired.

New hires include Sonya Breeding, a teacher at WWES; Lane Carr, a teacher at Letcher Middle School; April Cupp, a teacher at Letcher Elementary School; Gracie Maggard, principal of Fleming-Neon Middle School; Larry Maggard, homebound teacher and assistant athletic director; Patricia Mike, a teacher, and Katrina Whisenant, preschool and special education teacher at WWES.

Classified resignations include Mary Coyle, a cook/baker at LES; Lora Cummings, an instructional assistant II and lunch monitor at Cowan Elementary School; Donna Howard, an instructional assistant at CES; and Edward McBee, a bus driver at FNMS.

Marie Coleman, a Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) coordinator at Arlie Boggs Elementary School, retired.

Classified employment includes Diane Adams, an instructional assistant II at LES; Jessica Adams, an instructional assistant II at LES; Whitney Adams, a program assistant II at LES; Heather Bates, an instructional assistant II at WWES; Kimberly Blair, an instructional assistant I at LES; Stephanie Blair, an instructional assistant II at MJP; Michelle Burns, speech/language pathologist district wide; Cathy Campbell, a program assistant II at the Letcher County Area Technology Center; Lesley Cole, a program assistant II at LES; Tammy Cook, 21st Century site coordinator at MJP; Jacqueline Cornett, an instructional assistant II at LCCHS; Mary Coyle, a lunch monitor at CES; Carl Downey, a bus driver at Arlie Boggs Elementary School; Aaron Holbrook, a bus driver at LCCHS; Steven Holbrook, a custodian and lunch monitor at LES; Sandra King, a cook and baker at MJP; Tiffany Lowe, an instructional assistant II at LES: Amy McDougal, a program assistant II at CES; Bonita Robinson, a program assistant II at WMS; Harlan Seals, a bus driver at FNMS; Mark Spangler, a bus driver at FNMS; Laura Whitaker, an instructional assistant II at LCCHS; Lesley Whitaker, FRYSC coordinator at ABES; and Martina Yonts, an instructional assistant II at LCCHS.

The next regular board will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 in the Lendell Smith Memorial Conference Room of the Letcher County School Bus Garage.



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