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School Board to begin Superintendent search

The final item of business at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting was to begin preparations to begin the search for the next McCreary County Schools Superintendent.

Superintendent Donnie Wright tendered his resignation in May, but has been on a leave of absence since then. His final official day with the title will be on December 31. Assistant Superintendent Aaron Anderson first assumed Acting duties, with Mike Cash taking the title in July.

State law requires a search committee be established to review applicants for the position, then to forward their recommendations to the Board of Education for a further round of interviews and eventual selection.

On Thursday the Board took steps to officially declare that the position would be vacant as of January 1 and begin the process to establish a search committee.

Board Attorney Jeff Hoover, who headed two superintendent searches in Russell County and one in Adair County, informed the Board that it may be better for them to consider an outside party to head the search due to the controversy that has surrounded Wright’s departure.

Hoover recommended the Board give him authorization to contact the Kentucky School Board Association and enquire if they would be available to handle the process.

“I think the KSBA would be a better choice, under these circumstances, for this Board and this community,” he said.

According to their website, the KSBA assisted on 11 Superintendent searches over the past fiscal year, and more than 200 since they began offering the service.

When asked about the cost verses Hoover performing the task, the attorney stated there would be a fee involved, but it would also cost the District money if he led the committee. When Hoover was first retained by the Board it was stated his rate would be $150 per hour.

KSBA would charge $8,000 to oversee the selection process, but at a special called Board meeting Tuesday night, the Board opted to investigate their options further before deciding on how to handle the search.

Board member Rhonda Armijo stated she wanted more time to learn how the process works, and to see if less expensive options were available to the Board.

Chairman Brandon Kidd indicated Attorney Tim Crawford stated he could oversee the committee, and would cost less than the $8,000 charged by KSBA.

The matter will be taken up again at a later date.

Once someone is in place to begin the process, the next step would be post the vacancy and to establish a local search committee to review applications and conduct interviews with potential candidates.

The committee will be comprised of one School Board member, two teachers, one principal, one parent and one classified employee.

Those representatives will be elected by fellow members of each group, with the parent member selected by the presidents of parent-teacher organizations in the school district.

In other actions Thursday night the Board heard a presentation from Hope Daugherty with the McCreary Exceptional Support Group regarding providing help for autistic children in the district and their teachers and families.

Daugherty informed the Board that there are currently 46 students diagnosed with autism in the District, with a very good possibility there are several others who have not been diagnosed or been mis-diagnosed.

Providing training to staff is a vital tool for school districts, Daugherty said, in order for those students to have the opportunity to have a “loving, secure and nurturing environment,” Daugherty said.

The Kentucky Autism Training Center, based out of Louisville, and headed by former McCreary County Assistant Superintendent Larry Taylor, provides free training for school districts to help create an environment for individuals diagnosed with autism to flourish.

Acting Superintendent Mike Cash informed Daugherty that he instructed the District’s Director of Special Education to contact the training center to see about getting training for the district.

The Board approved leasing four new school busses for the district and a new fuel accounting system for the bus garage.

The total cost for the busses would be approximately $360,000, but would be paid for over the next five years. Cash informed the Board that the recent tax increase implemented would be enough to cover the purchase.

The Board asked about the possibility of adding air conditioning to the busses, but were informed it would add about $40,000 to the purchase, and the units are unreliable and prone to break-downs.

Cash informed the Board that the bus fleet is aging, and costs the District about $500,000 out of the General Fund every year to maintain. Maintenance funding for newer busses, less than 10 years old, comes from the state Department of Education.

The fuel accounting system at the bus garage is obsolete and non-functional, Cash said. Repairs to the system would cost about $9,500, whereas purchasing a new, modern system would cost $10,932. The new system will automatically log every fuel purchase.

The Board also approved the purchase of a new automated substitute call system for the district. With an install cost of $3,750 and an annual fee of $9,937, the system should make it easier to notify substitute teachers of open assignments, easing he burden on the schools.

Board member Roxanne Shook was the only dissenting vote when reviewing the working budget for the current school year.

Finance Officer Bill Boyd stated the current budget has 80.5 percent of the total cost dedicated to salaries, actually a little lower than state recommendations. Additionally 71.1 percent is tied directly to student instruction.

At the end of the year the District should finish with a five percent reserve, as voted on by the Board.

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