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Pre-school transition moving forward

The transition of the McCreary County pre-school is proceeding “about as smooth as it can get,” the McCreary County Board of Education learned last week.

Meeting in special session Wednesday evening, the Board heard an update from Acting Superintendent Aaron Anderson and Pre-School Office Manager Holly Daugherty regarding the District’s plans to move classrooms out of the existing facility into the District’s two elementary schools.

After the Board voted to move the classes, citing unsafe and cramped conditions, concerns were raised by some parents about disrupting the student’s learning environment by changing locations and possibly classmates.

District officials state they recognize the importance of making sure the move has a minimal impact on learning.

“It is an extremely important transition for everyone,” Anderson said.

The Board heard a breakdown of the planning already being done by Pre-School Instructional Assistant Holly Daugherty.

Daugherty stated the goal was to place the pre-school students in the same school they would begin kindergarten to minimize transitions and take away strain on the bus routes.

As a result, Pine Knot Primary would contain the majority of the classes, but Whitley City Elementary could see the need to add extra classrooms in the future.

Daugherty stated PKP would have four morning and four afternoon classrooms, housing 103 students, with room to add 58 without needing to add extra staff.

WCES would have one morning class and one afternoon class, reaching a total of 35 students. There would be room to add only five students to the two classes before additional classrooms and teachers would be needed.

The state requires a student to teacher ratio of 10-1 for pre-school level classes.

She also noted the current District policy is to offer pre-school to all qualifying students, whose family’s annual income falls within 160 percent of the poverty scale.

While the Board has addressed their desire to open pre-school to all students, the capacity and funding isn’t enough at the moment to accommodate those numbers yet.

Daugherty emphasized the importance of properly coding all pre-school students. The District receives $4,682 annually for each qualifying four year old, speech or developmentally disabled student, and $8,896 for each student classified with a severe disability.

Those funds go directly to the pre-school, and are used to fund the program. This past year the program brought the District over $800,000.

The Board was pleased to hear the report, and praised Daugherty for her work on the bus routing.

Anderson stated work on renovating classrooms at both schools should begin this week, and parents would be kept informed about all developments.

While the pre-school classes will be held at the two elementary level schools, and will operate under the principals of those schools, officials do not plan to merge the program with the schools – instead continue operating as a stand-alone program.

In other actions the Board approved a resolution to retain a second attorney, Tim Crawford, in the event the current attorney was unable to be reached.

Acting Superintendent Anderson emphasized the move was not intended to remove current Board Attorney Jeff Hoover from his position, it was simply to provide a backup if Hoover was unable to be reached an any time.

In addition to serving as a school board attorney for several school districts, Hoover is also the Minority Floor Leader in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

Anderson stated Crawford’s rate would be $135 per hour, but would only cost the District money if his services were used.

The motion passed 3-0, with Board Member Nelda Gilreath abstaining.

Crawford had previously served as the Board Attorney for 13 years, before he was replaced in 2011.

At that time his license was suspended for 30 days by the Kentucky Bar Association and Kentucky Supreme Court after being found guilty on four counts of professional misconduct.

Crawford was hired to represent Brenda Martin on a Social Security disability benefits claim in 2008.

After initially requesting a hearing with the Social Security Administration, he reportedly failed to respond for requests for additional information and documents. The case was dismissed in November of that year.

Martin claimed that she made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Crawford and finally dropped him as her attorney in 2009, and filed a complaint with the Kentucky Bar Association.

After Crawford filed no response to the complaint, he was found guilty and the board recommended a 30-day suspension.

The Board also approved the 2015-16 District Salary Schedule, which was tabled at their last meeting, and approved the latest documents related to the gym floor renovation at McCreary Central.

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