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Letcher teacher calls on state government to up school funding



The president of the Letcher County Teachers’ Organization has asked the Letcher County Board of Education to urge legislators to increase funding for public education.

“I encourage each of you to contact your legislators over the next few weeks and put some pressure on them to do the right thing in this upcoming session,” Regina Brown told the board Monday night. “Our funding is terrible and the only way to solve that is to increase what they give to public education. Unfortunately, that means they are going to have to make some decisions they may not want to make because it affects them in the polls. We’ve got to do what’s right for kids and that’s what we are asking for.”

Brown, who is also district director of special education, and other Kentucky Education Association (KEA) district presidents will be in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort Jan. 14 to advocate for additional funding for public education.

“Hopefully our legislators will listen to us before it needs to be a little more vocal,” she said. “I don’t care one bit to march around the Capitol. I’ve done it before with a toilet in my hand. If we can flush Fletcher, we can flush somebody else, too.”

Brown said she will also be at the Capitol building with members of the Upper Kentucky River Education Association ( UKREA) in February to advocate for public education funding.

Letcher County Public Schools Supt. Tony Sergent told the board that the district is continually required to operate with less money.

“What people don’t realize is that if funding stays exactly the same, your costs don’t stay the same,” said Sergent. “We all know that with inflation everything goes up every year.”

Sergent said employee step increases and rank changes are expected to cost the district $200,000 more next school year.

In other business, Letcher County Public Schools have 26 less students than they did at this time last year. Enrollment totaled 3,209 on Nov. 28, while one year ago the district enrollment was 3,235.

The district ended the 2012-2013 school year with an enrollment of 3,199.

“ We’re still holding strong,” said Kenneth Cornett, district director of pupil personnel.

The district attendance rate for the fourth month of school is 92.67 percent.

“Attendance is down some,” said Cornett.

West Whitesburg Elementary School has had the highest school attendance rate in the district for the past two months. For the fourth month of school, its rate is 94.93 percent.

Board members also questioned why two different drug-testing companies were selected during the board’s June meeting to provide drug-testing services for the school district.

The question came up after Board Member Terry Cornett suggested using the firms Kentucky Drug Testing and Workforce Drug Screening, both of which are located in Whitesburg.

“We need to pull those orders up,” said Board Member Will Smith. “The board is confused.”

Instead of choosing one company during the June meeting, the board approved doing business with both.

Kentucky Drug Testing has been conducting services for the board this school year, apparently because its prices have been lower.



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