The Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department is again in charge of providing security for schools that belong to the Letcher County School System.
The designation became official for another year Monday night when the Letcher County Board of Education voted 3-0 to hire two school resource officers — one male and one female. The motion was introduced by Board Member Will Smith and seconded by Dr. Sam Quillen Jr. Board Chairman Robert Kiser also voted for Smith’s motion.
The officers, who will have arresting powers, will each receive a salary of $32,975. As a part of the oneyear contract, the board will also pay $49.76 per month for part of each officer’s health insurance.
The school resource officers will primarily be stationed at Letcher County Central High School during normal school hours, but will visit other schools in the district if needed. The officers will also attend afterschool activities including ballgames, board meetings and any other district events the board deems necessary.
“I just feel better when they are there,” said Quillen, who told his fellow board members he attends 99 percent of school events. “I don’t recall any major problems and that is because of their presence.”
Deputy Sheriff Bert Slone, who has been employed as a school resource officer for the district for the previous eight years, said officers have answered calls at all hours of the night to make sure students will be safe the next morning.
The school district funded three school resource officers — Slone, Valerie Breeding and Wade Adams — during the 2012-2013 school year.
Roger Martin, district director of federal and state programs, recommended the board fund only one resource officer position.
“That’s being realistic looking down the road,” said new Letcher Schools Supt. Tony Sergent, adding that serious budget cuts are coming to the district.
“We’re looking at an excess of $1 million we need to trim,” said Sergent.
The 2012–2013 budget was exceeded by $600,000 and a substantially less amount in revenue will be allocated to the district this coming school year, Sergent said.
“Definitely something we have to take into consideration when figuring out what positions to fund,” he said.
Sergent said he would love to be able to hire all of the guidance counselors, nurses, art teachers and other teaching positions that have been reduced or cut out in recent years, but it would cost millions of dollars to do so.
Fewer school nurses will be on hand to care for students in August. The board approved providing funding for three school nurses for the upcoming school year in an agreement with the Kentucky River District Health Department. Each nurse will provide services for at least two different schools, Sergent said.
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.
“What cost us $40,000 last year will cost us $120,000 to maintain,” said Sergent.
In other business, Brooke Saurer, 13, of Partridge, was recognized during the board meeting for scoring a 21 on the ACT as a seventhgrade student at Whitesburg Middle School.
“That’s scary,” said Kiser. “I got a 19 on it as a senior in high school.”
Saurer was also recognized for placing fourth in the Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville on March 9. For placing fourth out of 65 students in the state spelling bee, she received a trophy, a $1,500 savings bond and a $25 Amazon gift card. Saurer, a four-time school champion, has won the Letcher County Spelling Bee three times and participated in the state spelling bee three times.
Two new employees of the district’s central office were introduced during the board meeting. Denise Yonts, former LCCHS assistant principal, is the district director of curriculum. Regina Brown, former districtwide resource teacher for special education, is the district director of special education and preschool.
Twyla Messer, district director of maintenance and transportation, told the board it will begin receiving copies of all work orders so board members can “see where your dollars are going in maintenance.”
Sherry Sexton, district energy manager, said the district saved $95,793 during the 2012-2013 school year. Fleming-Neon Middle School saved $21,423, the most for a school in the district. Schools receive 10 percent of what they saved Sexton said.
Regina Brown, president of the Letcher County Teachers Organization, said the Kentucky Education Association chapter will create two scholarships, one named after former superintendent Jack Burkich and his late wife Ruby and one scholarship named in honor of Jon Henrikson, former KEA president and retired teacher.
The board also:
• declared five band instruments as surplus at the request of Letcher County Central High School Band Director Dr. Jason Griffith, who said the instruments haven’t been used since he has became band director seven years ago.
• approved the second reading of the board policy pertaining to board-owned vehicles. The board struck out the part that says the policy excludes the superintendent.
“It’s not excluding the superintendent,” said Sergent. “It’s everybody. Essentially board vehicles will be parked on board property.” Sergent emphasized that board-owned vehicles are not for private use.
• accepted the first reading of annual updates and review of policies and procedures.
“Most of these procedures are recommended by KSBA (Kentucky School Boards Association),” said Sergent. “We have to go by these because they are law.”
The board did not vote on a policy changing the dropout age from 16 to 18.
“This is going to be something that could be rather expensive,” said Sergent. “We’re going to have to come up with a program to accommodate those children.”
• learned of the certified resignations of Nyoka Crawford, a substitute teacher; Freda Davis, a substitute teacher, Cristy Honaker, a teacher at LCCHS; Theodore Reiterman, a teacher at LCCHS; and Ashley Slone, LCCHS assistant dance coach.
• learned of the following certified transfers: Amy Baker, from West Whitesburg Elementary School teacher to guidance counselor at Letcher Elementary and Letcher Middle schools; Elizabeth Bentley, from special education teacher at LCCHS to teacher at LCCHS; Marvin Boggs, from teacher at Martha Jane Potter Elementary School to special education teacher at Cowan and Whitesburg Middle School; Angela Craft, from special education teacher at WWES to teacher at WWES; Charles Hall, from elementary social studies consultant with the Kentucky Department of Education to teacher at Letcher Middle School; Linda Hall, from district director of curriculum and instruction to education recovery teacher with the Kentucky Department of Education; Stacy Isaac, from interim principal at WWES to principal at WWES; Tony Sergent, from district director of CIITS to superintendent; Crystal Sparks, from teacher at WWES to district-wide special education teacher; and McKenzie Williams, from teacher at Letcher Elementary School to teacher at WWES.