Whitesburg KY

Letcher students lose spring break

The Letcher County Board of Education has canceled spring break to make up five of 17 school days missed because of bad weather.

“We are trying to determine or guess or predict if we are going to have any more bad weather,” Superintendent Tony Sergent said during the board’s February meeting Monday night. “There is a really good chance that we are going to miss some more school.”

If the board agreed to keep spring break for the week of April 4, classes would have ended May 27.

“If we miss one more day we are to May 31,” said Sergent. “If we miss two more we are into June. If we miss another week or so it puts us way up into June.”

If no more school is missed, May 20 will be the last day of school for students.

County schools have already “banked” five days by adding extra time to the regular school day. Board Chairman Will Smith suggested keeping at least three days of spring break, but Regina Brown, president of the Letcher County Teachers Organization, suggested that teachers are OK with cancelling the full break.

“As long as the teachers are okay with it,” said Smith.

Kenneth Cornett, district director of pupil personnel, said students with trips planned during the week of April 4 can apply for educational enhancement days, in which they won’t be counted absent.

Board Member Robert Kiser made the motion to take all five days of spring break and Smith seconded the motion. All board members voted in favor of Kiser’s motion.

West Whitesburg Elementary School has an attendance rate of 97 percent for the 19 days that make up the sixth month of the 2015-16 school year.

“That is outstanding,” said Cornett.

Cornett said the district enrollment of 3,140 is two students more than at this time last school year.

“That is very good for our district,” said Cornett.

Assistant Superintendent Twyla Messer pointed out unusual expenditures for the past month to include $19,857.60 for copy paper, $19,994.85 to replace boiler sections at Arlie Boggs Elementary School and $5,700 for sewer line work at Letcher Elementary School.

In other business, the LCTO’s Brown encouraged the board to contact legislators and voice concern about Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget.

“The governor has proposed cutting now out of this current budget that is going to hurt this district,” said Brown. “It’s going to hurt this state. There are rumors that (Attorney General Andy) Beshear is going to file an injunction to stop that right now. Hopefully that will happen.”

Bevin has proposed cutting four and a half percent out of the current elementary and secondary education budget, then trimming nine percent more from the state education budget set to begin in July.

“That’s money we have already gotten,” said Sergent. “We have already budgeted. Essentially we have already spent it. They want to back up into this year’s biennium and take it now. It’s really troublesome that they want to do it out of money they’ve already given you and already allocated.”

Brown said Bevin’s proposed budget includes $70 million in cuts to preschool education for each of the next two years.

“I know the gains we make because we educate our preschool children before they enter kindergarten and get them ready,” said Brown.

The board also:

• re-employed Debbie Cook as board secretary for one year beginning March 1.

• re-employed Darrell Hall as board attorney for one year beginning March 1.

• approved the following overnight and out-of-state trips: Letcher County Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) to participate in regional competition in Richmond on March 9 and March 10; Letcher County Health Occupation Specialist Association (HOSA) to participate in state competition in Louisville March 17-19; Letcher County Central High School academic team to participate in state competition in Richmond March 19 and March 20; LCCHS JROTC to participate in All Army Championship in Radcliff March 11-13; Arlie Boggs Elementary School class to participate in mock government in Louisville March 20-22; LCCHS JROTC to participate in National Drill Championship in Louisville April 8 and April 9; and LCCHS senior class trip to New York City April 3-8.

• approved a maintenance contract with Quicksand Farms for treatment of LCCHS baseball and softball fields, Fleming-Neon Middle School football field and Whitesburg football field. Maintenance period is from February through November. Cost of maintenance of LCCHS baseball field is $4,000. Cost of maintenance of LCCHS softball field is $2,400. Maintenance cost $2,800 each for Neon and Whitesburg football fields.

• approved a rental contract totaling $2,180 approved with Kenmark, Inc. for backdrops for the LCCHS drama class during the production of “Footloose.”

• approved a costume rental contract with The Costumer for the LCCHS drama class.

• approved Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSC) continuation program plans and assurance certifications for the 2017-18 school year.

• approved Letcher Elementary School to sell pies from the Pie Peddler as a school-wide fund-raiser to provide necessities for students and families through its FRYSC program.

• approved the financial report, payment of bills and transfers and payment of January salaries. Josh Yonts, Letcher district finance officer, reported a bank balance of $7,833,219.29 on Jan. 31.

• learned of the certified employment of Bridgett Craft, a teacher at West Whitesburg Elementary School.

• learned of the classified resignations of Cleo Holbrook, substitute instructional assistant and bus monitor, and Shirley Martin, a custodian at LCCHS.

• learned of the classified retirements of Michael Tyree, a vehicle mechanic, and Sina Yonts, a lead custodian at LCCHS.

A motion was made by Kiser at 7:52 p.m. to go into closed session to discuss an individual employee and litigation involving Roger Hall. The board came out of executive session at 9:05 p.m. and Smith reported that no action was taken while in closed session.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled to be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 28 at the Letcher County School Bus Garage.

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