Whitesburg KY

School channel has plug pulled; leaving air soon

Letcher County Public Schools is pulling the plug on its cable television channel after nearly 15 years of operation.

“I hate to do it because the public likes it,” Letcher Schools Superintendent Tony Sergent said of the decision to discontinue operations at “The School Channel.” “The board members wanted to keep it, too.”

Sergent said the reason for going black with LCPS-TV is to save $105,000 annually, including $14,400 in yearly cable TV fees.

The decision to end the school channel on June 30 did not require a vote by the Letcher County Board of Education, Sergent said.

For the 2013-14 school year, the district spent $600,000 more than it took in and that money had to be taken from the district’s “contingency fund.” Sergent said the district is projected to spend $280,000 more than it receives in revenue during the 2014-15 school year.

Sergent cut spending by $700,000 during his first year as superintendent and continues to look for ways to reduce expenditures even more.

The TV station began in October of 1999 with help from a 21st Century grant. The grant ran out years ago and the district had been paying for the cost of operating the station itself.

School plays, ballgames, graduations and school board meetings have been aired on channel 46 through TVS Cable and channel 22 through Inter Mountain Cable. School closings and cancelations scrolled across the bottom of the screen.

Sergent said the district’s automated call system will help keep parents informed of school closings and other school-related information. The district is also getting a new website provider, Sergent said, and videos can be uploaded and viewed on the district’s website.

Suzan Maddin, a videographer and editor with the school channel, taught family and consumer science at Letcher County Central High School during the 2013-14 school year. The videographer/editor position was not filled, leaving Dianna Holbrook, TV media producer, as the sole videographer and editor for this past school year.

Holbrook will begin working in personnel beginning July 1.

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