Board opts to wait on school calendar change
With the threat of additional snow and ice on the immediate forecast the McCreary County Board of Education decided to table a decision to amend the school calendar Tuesday night in order to get a better idea how many days the District would miss due to inclement weather.
With the District already accruing 20 snow days this school year alone, and with the threat of more missed days in the weeks ahead, Board Chair Brandon Kidd stated he thought it would be best to wait on a decision, because any more missed days would impact the proposed changes.
The Board was presented four options for making up missed days. Ranging from simply taking two days from spring break to adding 30 minutes to each school day as well as taking spring break days and additional non-educational days. The four choices would allow the District to make up between two and eight days on the calendar.
The results of a poll taken among school staff, and an informal internet poll posted by Kidd seemed to favor two options: taking four days from spring break, or adding 30 minutes in addition to taking the four days from spring break.
With Governor Steve Beshear declaring a state of emergency after the recent snow storm, the likelihood of the Kentucky Department Education granting school districts waivers to make up for missed days due to the weather remains a strong possibility, but each school district must make a concerted effort to make up days on their own before the Commissioner would even consider granting the waiver.
As of Wednesday the McCreary County School District has missed 20 days, placing the last day for students on June 12. The original closing day was May 13.
In other actions Tuesday night the Board opted not to enter into an agreement with the Olweus Bullying Program, noting materials for the program would cost the District over $10,000.
Board member Debbie Gibson stated there were other means to strengthen the local bullying policy that would not cost the District funding. She noted the main focus would be on accountability for the staff to enforce the policy.
The Board reluctantly agreed to start the process of getting state approval to replace the roof at Pine Knot Intermediate School.
The roof, which has been patched in recent years, has began to leak again after the recent snow storm, and significant parts of the roof are failing. At least one workman’s comp claim has been filed to date as a result of a slip and fall injury due to the leak.
With an initial estimated cost of over $1.2 million, Board Chair Kidd questioned if insurance would cover the cost.
Board insurance agent Buddy Wilson was in attendance for another matter, but told the Board that it could be possible for some of the cost to be covered due to the storm, but the roof was old and not all of the damage could be related to the storm.
District Finance Officer Kristi Sizemore informed the Board that the KDE had classified the project as an emergency, allowing them to circumvent many of the requirements for a project that size. The Board would need to consult with an architect to oversee the project, but did not need to bid it out.
Kidd asked if they would be allowed to bid the project locally, expressing the opinion that local contractors may be able to do the work cheaper than one from the state bid list.
Sizemore said that should be possible.
The question of financing the project is the next hurdle the Board faces. With no bonding ability until 2024, Sizemore stated the District has an offer of assistance from the School Facilities Construction Commission, which would allow the SFCC to finance the project at no cost to the District.
Kidd motioned to approve sending the BG-1 request to the state for approval, noting the Board would still have to approve a revised BG-1 once more information was gathered about the final cost.
Buddy Wilson, from Crabtree Wilson Insurance, gave a brief update on upcoming insurance bids. Wilson stated he initially was going to ask the Board to authorize him to seek bids on behalf of the Board, but was hesitant to do so due to the fact the District’s Workman’s Compensation coverage was expected to increase significantly due to the larger number of claims this past year.
Citing budgetary concerns, the Board opted to transfer one of the copiers at the Central Office to the McCreary Academy, rather than leasing a new unit for the school.
The Board also heard a presentation from the Lake Cumberland District Health Department concerning the upcoming decision concerning the school nurse program.
The nurses are currently provided by the Health District, but due to increased costs, they will no longer be able to continue the program.
One option would be to hire the nurses directly through the District, with the LCHD providing oversight, but the Medicaid would be paid directly to the schools. The first option would cost the District only $8,000 more annually than they are currently paying.
A second option would be to hire and supply their own nursing staff, but if so, the schools could not get any refunds from Medicaid and would cost about $231,000 per year.
The Board expressed their opinion that the first option would be preferable to keep the same nurses that the schools are accustomed to, but would have to wait until the next meeting to approve the measure.
A second presentation from the Health District concerned making all McCreary County schools completely tobacco free, prohibiting students, staff and visitors from using tobacco products anywhere on school property at all times.
Several schools in the LCAHD district have adopted the new policy, and Health District officials state it has had a positive impact on lowering smoking rates.
A special Board Meeting has been scheduled for next Tuesday at 5:45, to be followed by Board training at 6:00 p.m.
The next regular scheduled Board meeting will be on March 24 at 6:30 p.m.