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Superintendent proposes reorganization of school transportation department

Transportation staff attend meeting and express concerns

By Eugenia Jones

Several McCreary County school bus drivers and others from the transportation department attended a special called meeting of the McCreary County Board of Education held Monday, August 1, 2022.  The agenda for Monday night’s special meeting included an item calling for discussion and/or action on possible reorganization of the school district’s transportation department.

Superintendent Dr. John Gunn addressed the Board by stating he has studied three years of data in an effort to solve some of the challenges currently faced by the school district’s transportation department.  Citing data, Superintendent Gunn recommended the Board create the position of Director of Transportation Services.  As a result of studying data, Superintendent Gunn noted some of his primary concerns regarding the transportation department are:  a continuing shortage of school bus drivers, route duplication, and overtime pay.

Several school bus drivers addressed the Board during the meeting.  Bus driver Craig Voyatt noted the district is still short bus drivers and inquired as to what type of data has been studied.  Driver Kathy Worley spoke up, expressing her love for her job.

“I love driving a school bus,” Worley said.  “But you don’t make a living by just driving a bus.”

Driver Stephanie King, who is beginning her fifth year as a McCreary County School District bus driver, said more drivers are needed.

“We don’t have enough people,” King stated.  “We do double routes.  We just don’t have enough people.”

According to Transportation Director Stuart Shepherd, there are twenty-six full time drivers and thirty-nine routes.  Ten people (currently employed in other district positions such as mechanics, maintenance, etc.) drive when needed but, as a result of surpassing their normal forty hours per week, are paid overtime.

“My staff are overworked,” Shepherd said.  “They need assistance and help.”

Acting on a motion by Chairperson Braxton King with a second by Board Member Johnny Barnett, the Board voted unanimously to table the matter until their next meeting when staff from the transportation department can fully express their concerns and ask questions about the proposed reorganization.  Board Member Lori Foster asked that information concerning bus driver pay in surrounding districts be available at the next meeting.

In other business, the Board unanimously approved the formation of a McCreary County Youth Basketball League, replacing elementary teams at both Pine Knot and Whitley City Elementary Schools.  Beginning this year, all student athletes in grades 2-5 from Pine Knot and Whitley City Elementary will consolidate to form numerous teams within the McCreary County Youth Basketball League and will compete against each other.  Practices for all players and teams will rotate by week between Pine Knot and Whitley City Elementary School gymnasiums.  Games will also rotate back and forth between the two schools.  Two elementary basketball directors (one for boys’ basketball and one for girls’ basketball) along with two assistant directors will oversee the program by recruiting and training volunteer coaches, assigning teams, scheduling gym time and games, securing referees, etc.  The elementary basketball directors will receive a stipend of $3,000 each with assistant directors receiving stipends of $1,600 each.   According to District Athletic Director Kenny McKinney, the consolidated team will make it easier to schedule games and will increase student athlete participation in the sport.

Additionally, the Board asked that McCreary Central High School Principal Sharon Privett provide more information as to why a requested Emergency Certification for the vacant English position at the High School is necessary.   The Board did not take any action on the request, electing to wait until they receive more information.

In regard to additional agenda items, the Board authorized Superintendent Gunn to take action on the Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency, Inc. Head Start/McCreary County School District Memorandum of Agreement for Enhanced Classrooms and approved the independent contract revision for Mark Patrick (financial consultant.)

Photo by Eugenia Jones

School bus drivers and other staff are pictured at the bus garage as they receive training prior to the start of the 2022-23 school year.

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