The parent of a Cowan Elementary School student appeared before the Letcher County Board of Education this week to voice her concerns about the lack of a fulltime school nurse to care for her son who has diabetes and others who may also need insulin or other services during a school day.
“(The school nurse) is there two hours a day and my child is not diabetic for two hours,” said Nicole Buttrey of Isom.
The board voted at its July 22 meeting to fund three school nurses in conjunction with the Letcher County Health Department. Eight school nurses were employed in the district during the 2012-2013 school year. The board’s cost of providing limited school nursing services has tripled since last school year. The board contributed $5,000 per nurse last school year and the cost is now $15,000 per nurse.
“All of that fell back to the health department raising their cost,” Board Chairman Robert Kiser told Mrs. Buttrey. “Last year we had a full-time nurse in every school, but at the same time it was at a third of the cost.”
Board Member Mendy Boggs said she had been planning to talk about funding a full-time nurse at Cowan later during Monday night’s meeting. Boggs said she has visited the Cowan school often since classes started August 7 and has noticed the need for a fulltime nurse.
“She is very capable of handling it, but she feels overwhelmed,” Boggs said of the part-time nurse. “They have several diabetics. They have a real severe asthma (case). They have some peanut allergies. They have some bee sting allergies.”
Buttrey said her 12-yearold child has an emergency kit in case he passes out.
“All of our instructional aides have received training from our registered nurse Fran Yonts on the monitoring of the carb counts and on the procedures they are allowed legally to perform and they are all trained to do so,” said Regina Brown, district director of special education.
Brown said instructional aides can monitor carbohyrdrate levels but aren’t allowed to administer insulin.
“Today I had to go get him,” said Buttrey. “There was no nurse at school. He was throwing up. He took his insulin, then he threw up. If he passes out and you give him that shot you have to roll him over because he’ll throw up and he’ll aspirate. If you don’t know that, he is in trouble.”
As the Cowan school board representative, Boggs told the other board members a nurse is needed fulltime at Cowan Elementary.
“I know that is money we don’t have,” said Boggs. “I have been over there quite a bit in the last couple of weeks checking things out and watching how things work.”
Kiser told Buttrey that he hopes it makes her feel some better after listening to Brown and Boggs.
“A little bit,” said Buttrey.
“It doesn’t me,” said Boggs. “I still want a nurse full time.”
During the public participation portion of the board meeting, Boggs asked to clarify an item mentioned in preliminary findings of an audit compiled by State Auditor Adam Edelen’s office after someone anonymously asked the state auditor’s office to look into travel expenditures of former Superintendent Anna Craft and Assistant Superintendent Twyla Messer.
Craft was reimbursed for meals at Windy Corner
Market in Lexington totaling $49.03 on Nov. 30, 2012. The auditor’s report described the expense as “not reasonable” and “excessive.” That bill included meals for Boggs and her two daughters. Craft said she forgot to mark the two daughters’ meals off of the receipt before requesting reimbursement.
Boggs said during Monday night’s board meeting that she didn’t know Craft had intended to turn in the receipt to be reimbursed by the board.
“I was under the understanding that the dinner bought for me and my two daughters was paid for by that person,” said Boggs. “Apparently it was turned back to the board. It came out in the auditor’s report.”
Boggs said she won’t take anything that isn’t due her.
“That was not due my children,” she said. “I know it was $20, but that was not due us. I would have paid for my children’s food. I would not have billed the board for my children’s food because that is not what the board does. We do not pay to go out to restaurants.”
Boggs gave Debbie Cook, board secretary, a check for $20.
“It is no big deal,” said Boggs. “I just want everybody to know I did not take money from the board that I’m not supposed to take. I know that was in the state auditor’s report and I want to make it clear that I don’t expect anyone to provide for my children. I do that myself, well my husband does that, but still yet.”
In other business, Denise Yonts, district director of curriculum and instruction, said 18 new teachers recently received training. Some were first-year teachers, some were hired in the spring and others came from other districts, she said.
“They are a wonderful bunch,” said Yonts. “They are so enthusiastic and eager. ”
Letcher County Central High School junior Cameron Wright, the student representative to the school board, told the board that LCCHS students interested in taking law and justice classes have an opportunity to take JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps), which will include a law and justice component.
Superintendent Tony Sergent gave the board an overview of results from the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) survey, an online survey taken by teachers in the district.
More than 50 percent of West Whitesburg Elementary School teachers say they don’t have adequate space to work productively and 21.2 percent of WWES teachers say the physical environment of the classrooms does not support teaching and learning.
Sergent said the WWES facility was built as an open classroom setting and other than building a new building or completely remodeling the building, he didn’t have an immediate solution.
“Those are issues that would take more in depth thought and problem solving,” said Sergent.
Sergent said 74.9 percent of teachers surveyed said they don’t have sufficient access to a broad range of professional support personnel. He attributed this to a reduction in librarians, art teachers, counselors and other positions during the last seven years.
About 75 percent of teachers surveyed say there isn’t sufficient reliability and speed of Internet connection. Randy Bailey, district technology director, said it would cost nearly $600,000 to upgrade wiring for all schools in the district to have Wi-Fi connection.
Half of WWES teachers and 62.1 percent of Letcher Elementary School teachers surveyed said they don’t think the building is clean or well maintained.
“If the teachers feel like the building isn’t clean, that is something we need to discuss,” said Sergent. A more detailed list of survey results for each school can be viewed at www.tellkentucky.org.
The survey is one of three components of a new superintendent evaluation system. Finances and student achievement make up the other two components.
The board also:
• approved a second reading of annual updates and reviews of policies and procedures.
• approved a first reading of revisions to board policies pertaining to transfers and withdrawals and attendance requirements.
As of the 2017– 2018 school year, students will not be allowed to drop out of high school until they are 18. Sergent said the district will postpone implementing that age requirement until 2017 in order to develop a program for students who want to quit school. Now a student can quit school at age 16 with parental permission.
• approved a memorandum of agreement with Midway College pertaining to student teachers.
• approved the annual statement of certification of constitutionally protected prayer in public schools.
• approved the following payment of claims for construction of the LCCHS softball field, two tennis courts and a golf putting green: Mountain Enterprise, $235,959.75; Tree Top Landscaping, Inc., $13,907.12; Codell Construction Co., $7,394.90; and Sherman Carter Barnhart, $227.53.
Kiser asked Roger Martin, district director of federal and state programs, how much funding the board is retaining and Martin said it is a total of $156,000. Kiser asked board attorney Darrell Hall about how the board would go about keeping money owed because he thinks the project took longer than necessary to complete.
Hall said the board would need to talk to the contractor and see how many days it took the contractors to finish the project past the date in the contract.
“Everything looks great,” said Will Smith, a board member. “It just took them a long time to do it.”
• approved the monthly finance report, payment of bills and transfers and payment of July salaries.
Brian Johnson, district finance officer, said the bank balance as of July 31 is $4,186,837.89, of which $643,425.66 is in a construction fund.
Martin said the beginning balance for the 2012- 2013 school year was $2.8 million and the ending balance is $2.2 million.
“The big concern is our declining beginning balance,” said Martin. “Obviously we are going in the wrong direction there. At some point in time we have to get our revenue and expenses on the same level.”
• learned of the following classified resignations: Jamie Adkins, special education teacher at WES; Jewell Eldridge, teacher at Letcher Middle School; Brett Richards, LCCHS head golf coach; and David Robinson, LCCHS head boys’ soccer coach.
• learned of the following classified employments: Danielle Bailey, teacher at Letcher Elementary School; Juan Benavides, teacher at Cowan Elementary School; Whitney Bolling, teacher at WWES; Afton Collins, teacher at Cowan Elementary School; Ashley Gilbert, teacher at WWES; Misha Hall, special education teacher at LCCHS; Suzan Maddin, teacher at LCCHS; Chelsey Mayo, teacher at LCCHS; Christopher Schulz, teacher at LCCHS; Teasha Sloas, teacher at Letcher Middle School; Michael Sparks, teacher at Martha Jane Potter Elementary School; Donald B. Srader, teacher at Letcher Middle School; Amber Stewart, teacher at MJP; and Phyllis G. Walworth, teacher at LCCHS.
• learned of the following classified resignations: Amelia McDougal, program assistant II at CES; Shaun Mynster, bus driver at CES; and Bonita Robinson, program assistant II at Whitesburg Middle School.
• learned of the classified retirement of Debra Caudill, a bus driver at WWES.
• learned of the classified employment of Elmer C. Baes, a program assistant II at WMS; Marvin Boggs, a bus driver; Kevin Fields, a custodian at WWES; Joe Gose, a cook/baker at MJP; Noble Johnson, a program assistant II at Fleming-Neon Middle School; and Edward Sturgill, a custodian at Arlie Boggs Elementary School.
Kiser made a motion at 8:46 p.m. to enter into executive session to discuss an individual employee and to discuss two pending litigations, including one involving Mark A. Spangler and another involving Michelle Murphy. The board came out of executive session at 9:26 p.m. and Kiser said no action was taken in closed session.
The next regular board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 23 in the Lendell Smith Memorial Conference Room of the Letcher County School Bus Garage.