Candidates seeking appointment to School Board will be interviewed.
By Eugenia Jones
During December’s monthly meeting held earlier this week, the McCreary County Board of Education tentatively set a date to interview candidates who are seeking appointment as School Board Members in Districts 1 and 3. Vacancies in the two districts occurred as a result of the resignation of District 3 Board Member Dustin Stephens (moved/residing in another McCreary County school board district) and the passing of District 1 School Board Member Nelda Gilreath. Pending the availability of applicants, interviews will occur on Thursday, December 17. The selection of new board members will be made only after the interviews are complete.
In other business, Board Member Lori Foster made a motion, which passed, to amend the meeting agenda to include discussion and/or action concerning the Board’s legal representation. Currently, legal representation for the McCreary County School Board consists of local attorney John Blevins as School Board attorney and Mike Owsley of the Bowling Green firm English, Lucas Priest & Owsley (ELPO) retained on an “as needed” basis. Blevins was initially approved for hire as Board attorney during an August 26, 2019 regular school board meeting on a motion and second by Board Members Deborah Gibson and Foster, respectively. Four board members voted for approval of Blevins while one member voted against. ELPO (Owsley), who is considered an authority on school district law and policy in Kentucky, was later retained on an “as needed basis” in a split vote by the Board during a special called meeting on November 18, 2019. Two board members, Foster and Gibson, voted against retaining ELPO (Attorney Owsley) on an ‘as needed” basis at that time.
During Monday night’s meeting, Foster expressed her feeling that Mr. Blevins is the attorney of record and his services should be used unless there is a conflict of interest or he deems it necessary to seek further legal counsel. She cited her concerns about two lawyers being paid to do the same work.
“I made the motion to add the item for discussion because I feel there needs to be some clear, cut and dry, clarity for contacting legal counsel,” Foster stated.
After some back and forth discussion between members, School Board Member Braxton King asked McCreary County School Superintendent Corey Keith for his input. While Keith was complimentary of Attorney Blevins, he stated he does like having the ability to consult with Attorney Owsley when there is a local conflict of interest or some other valid need.
“I try to be extremely conscientious of the rights of our students and staff, and I never want to put the school district in a situation of liability,” Keith remarked. “With that being said, I like having that extra resource on an “as needed” basis available.”
The Board took no action but requested Superintendent Keith gather and provide them with more information about Attorney Owsley’s “as needed” services.
The Board also approved all actions by consent including:
-approval of bills, claims, and financial reports.
-approval of revisions for records management.
-acknowledgment of the first calendar committee reading for 2021-2022 school year.
-approval of Berea College ETS grant Memorandum of Understanding.
In addition to normal business, Superintendent Keith updated the Board on several items. First, Keith noted the current updated Federal Program and Title 1 Annual Meeting is on the District’s website and encouraged the community to give feedback.
Keith noted the Governor has alluded to possible forthcoming adjustments which will allow schools to operate with in-person classes when a school district is in the red (critical) level of COVID-19 transmission. Currently, classes cannot be held in-person if the school district is in the red (critical) level. Keith said one of the adjustments may be to allow schools in “red” districts to operate on an in-person hybrid schedule (A/B schedule.) Keith said if adjustments are made, the district will examine options and take appropriate actions.
Keith thanked several individuals for their contributions to the McCreary County School District. Keith thanked JC Egnew for a $50,000 donation to the District’s Gifted/Talented program for students. Keith also thanked staff, board members, students, parents, and community for their assistance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Superintendent Keith also thanked two outgoing school board members, Dustin Stephens and Deborah Gibson. Stephens served as a McCreary County School Board Member since 2017, and Gibson has served on the Board for a total of ten years. In addition, Gibson was as an employee in the McCreary County School District for twenty-one years. Keith presented Gibson with a plaque in recognition of her many years of service and dedication to the District.
The next regular meeting of the McCreary County Board of Education will be Monday, January 25, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. at the Board’s Central Office.