By Greg Bird
District Court Judge Kathy Prewitt approached the McCreary County Board of Education to seek funding to reinstate the McCreary County Juvenile Drug Court.
Juvenile Drug Court is an alternative for children who are facing criminal charges due to their involvement with drugs. Under the program, those who successfully complete the process see their charges dismissed – avoiding a criminal record.
Judge Prewitt said the program being run in Whitley County is very successful, and McCreary’s program – if approved by the Board – would run under identical guidelines.
Students enrolled in the drug court would undergo a three-phase program involving treatment, education and self-motivation. Over the course of a year or more the students would be subject to drug screenings and review.
Juvenile Drug Court was utilized in McCreary County in the past. Originally established by the Kentucky Court of Justice, Judge Prewitt presided over cases both locally and in Whitley County free of charge. Funding for the program was dropped in 2009, but the local school districts picked up the costs to continue the program. Around 2012 the local funding was not allocated, and the program has been dormant in McCreary County for several years.
Judge Prewitt asked the Board to renew funding, which would pay for a local case manager and drug screening kits. The case manager would be an existing District employee, and would be paid a stipend of about $8,000 a year to handle all local cases involved in the Court process. In total it was estimated the cost to the Board would be less than $15,000 annually. Judge Prewitt noted 18 McCreary County students tested positive on random drug screens this past school year.
The Board voted unanimously to approve the funding to re-establish the program.
In other actions Monday night the Board approved two insurance bids, one for property and liability coverage and the other for worker’s comp coverage. For the property coverage the Board voted to go with EMC Insurance, which was explained would provide better coverage than previous policies, at a savings of about $35,000 over the other bid.
On worker’s comp, the Board will stay with Kentucky Employer’s Mutual Insurance, who proposed a bid more than $43,000 over the other bidder. It was also noted the District’s worker’s comp claims have dropped in recent years meaning coverage will drop more than $34,000 over last year.
The Board also voted to keep the School Resource Officer positions as District employees, rather than have them operate under the McCreary County Sheriff’s Department. School safety legislation passed earlier this year will cause some changes to how SRO’s operate in school districts in the future. The officers are employees of the District, but operate under the bond of Sheriff Randy Waters. It is unclear if the District will have to assume the bond once the changes go in to effect.
The Board also continued to tweak the salary schedule for certain classified employee positions.
The purpose of the restructuring is to bring local salary averages more in line with other school districts of similar size.
The Board will look at administrative salaries next month in their next regular scheduled meeting on June 17.