By Eugenia Jones
The newly hired McCreary County School District Superintendent, Dr. John Gunn, participated in his first local school board meeting during a special called meeting held earlier this week on July 12, 2022. School Board members and Superintendent Gunn faced some inflationary sticker shock when reviewing bids for the McCreary County Middle School renovation project. When the project was initially approved, approximately $7.6 million dollars in ESSR 3 funding was budgeted to cover cost of the renovation. By using ESSR funding (one-time federal funding received because of COVID-19), the Board’s intent was to cover the cost of the project without adding debt to the District. However, with rising inflation, the project is now expected to cost approximately $12 to $13 million. Jonathan Smith, VP of Operations with Branscum Construction, reviewed all bids for the project during the Board meeting and recommended three of the construction packages be rebid in order to obtain more cost effective bids. The packages recommended for rebid include the earthworks and roofing bids. The Board unanimously accepted and approved Smith’s recommendations.
In additional business related to financing the McCreary Middle School renovation project, Director of Public Finance Banker Kelly Mrsic, discussed the District’s bonding capacity. According to Ms. Mrsic, the District is financially sound and is in an excellent position to bond the project. Mrsic recommended bonding at least a portion of the renovation project, freeing up the ESSR funding to remain in the District for General Fund use. The ESSR 3 funding will not be available to the District after 2024. Since Board Member Stacey Hammons was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, the Board requested another meeting with Ms. Mrsic to share information with Hammons. A decision on the amount of bonding for the project is expected during that meeting.
Additional business during the meeting included the following:
-The Board authorized Board Attorney John Blevins, along with Superintendent Gunn, to begin the process for sale or donation of Smithtown Elementary property.
-Created a new teacher induction mentor stipend from Title 5 funds.
-Requested Board Attorney John Blevins develop a sample plan (separate salary schedule) regarding a reimbursement option for SLEOs/SROs (School Law Enforcement/School Resource Officers) while attending training academy.
-Discussed benefits of offering virtual programming for the 2022-23 school year. Superintendent Gunn and his team will develop a plan to share with the Board for future discussion/approval.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the McCreary County Board of Education is July 25, 2022 at the Central Office.