Whitesburg KY
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Parents say girls deserve own field




Parents whose students play softball at Letcher County Central High School want a field their children can call their own.

“We don’t have a Letcher County Central softball field,” Shaun Mynster, president of the LCCHS softball booster club, told the Letcher County Board of Education this week. “The thing that worries us or bothers us right now where we are playing is not really our field.”

The softball team has been playing on a field leased to the school district by the Letcher Fiscal Court. The field is located on KY 15, across from the Whitesburg hospital. Mynster said the softball team shares the field with youth soccer and Little League baseball teams.

Mynster complained about boulders in centerfield and having to pick up trash and move soccer nets off the field before the softball team can hold practice. He said the because the field has no lights, the junior varsity team only gets to play an inning or two after varsity games before darkness falls.

Mynster said the high school’s boys’ baseball team now has its own field and girls’ softball team deserves its own park.

“It makes the girls feel bad,” said Mynster. “You drive by and you see that nice baseball field. It’s really nice and I like it and I’m glad you got it, because they deserve something. Our girls deserve something too. You look on the other side and you see the football field. You go on up and you see nothing for the girls.”

Other parents expressed fears their children might be hurt riding to and from the softball field to practice.

Supt. Anna Craft said that as long as a school bus is driving by the field the bus driver could drop the girls off at the field for practice, but players would then be responsible for finding a ride home. Craft said the district is currently offering the same bus service to band students and other students involved in extracurricular activities.

Officials told the parents that if the softball field is built before a new vocational school being planned for nearby, the field would get torn up because that is the where the “staging area” would be to mix concrete used to brick the building.

“The field has simply been delayed because there is still a glimmer of hope for a state-of-the-art vocational school,” said Board Chairman Will Smith. “That is going to be our number one priority.”

“First priority is we are trying to educate your children,” said Craft.

Smith said the board has been “begging, bumming, (and) collecting for a vocational school” and at one point was close to having the funding in place. Cost of the vocational school project has increased from an estimated $6 million in 2005, when planning first began, to almost $10 million today.

“I just hate to give up,” said Craft. “There is hope alive. We do want to give it one last shot.”

The Letcher Fiscal Court voted last week to seek $2 million in multi-county severance funds to help with the vocational school project. Pike, Knott, and Harlan counties are being asked to support the court’s application.

“As soon as we feel like there will be no vocational school, we will proceed with a softball field,” said Smith.

Craft offered to let the team use the field at Letcher Elementary School that has lights installed. Parents said it would be farther to drive to get to that field and worried that girls on the team may quit if transportation becomes a problem.

Board member Dr. Sam Quillen Jr. mentioned using the field at Ramey’s Fork that the baseball team used for three years while waiting for its field to be completed. That field also has lights. Parents said transportation would be an issue with that field as well.

Edwin Franklin, who described himself as a concerned parent who has a student enrolled in the Letcher County School System, told the board he was concerned to learn that an eight-year-old student took a gun to Martha Jane Potter Elementary School last month and asked what action was being taken to prevent similar instances.

Craft said that after students are in school buildings at the start of the school day the doors are locked and visitors must press a button and be seen before being allowed to enter the building. All visitors must sign in and receive a visitor’s badge before proceeding past the front office.

“I always feel secure when I go in because I always have to go through, sign in and get a badge,” added Dr. Quillen.

Craft said in addition to all sixth-grade students attending a D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) class taught by a Kentucky State Police trooper, police officers stop by schools and eat lunch with students throughout the school year.

In other business, Kenneth Cornett, director of pupil personnel, said the attendance rate for the sixth month was 89.46 percent.

“That is the lowest I can recall,” said Cornett.

Cornett said inclement weather, illnesses and water problems played major roles in the low attendance rate.

The board also:

• approved the 2009-2010 school calendar. School will begin on August 10 for students and end on May 24. The calendar includes a full week for fall break beginning October 5 and a full week for spring break beginning April 5. Cornett said makeup days are stipulated throughout the calendar in case of inclement weather. Three days of spring break, two days of Christmas break, and President’s Day are marked as possible makeup days.

• approved submitting a proposal to the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) asking for eight calamity days to make up for days missed because of inclement weather.

Craft said if the eight days are approved by the state department of education last day of school for students will be May 28. Craft said teachers would work those eight days.

• named Kim Miles, teacher at West Whitesburg Elementary School, as employee of the month.

• approved submission of a federal safe schools grant application which, if awarded, will be for a period of four years at $750,000.

• approved submission of a state grant application for the Stewart McKinney Homeless grant. If awarded, the $50,000 grant will provide a coordinator for a homeless program as well as funding targeting homeless students.

• entered into a full maintenance agreement with D-C Elevator Company Inc. to furnish complete maintenance on two elevators at LCCHS. Cost of service is $212.75 each month for one year. The board also entered into a full maintenance agreement with D-C Elevator Company Inc. for complete maintenance on an elevator at Fleming-Neon Elementary School. Cost of service is $146.25 each month.

• approved an eight-month maintenance contract with Quicksand Farms, LLC for treatment of the LCCHS baseball field at a cost of $2,600.

• approved paying $26,258.62 to Breeding’s Plumbing and Electric for services rendered for the plumbing renovation project at Fleming-Neon Elementary School.

• heard from Roger Martin, district finance officer, who reported $4,790,202.61 being in the general ledger balance.

• approved the Letcher County Youth Soccer Association to use the old Whitesburg High School football field.

• accepted resignations from Benjamin Howard, a teacher at LCCHS; Billy Stanley, middle school baseball coach; and Charles Keith Williams, districtwide bus driver and instructional assistant substitute.

The board will meet again at 6:30 p.m. on April 27.


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