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BOE to release salaries of Central Office staff; Humphrey to replace Shannon as Treasurer

 

LOUISA -- Lawrence County Superintendent Mike Armstrong said last night that students and personnel will not have to make up the recent "flood day" when students had to miss class time because of rising waters.

"The good thing is that we have well over the number of hours required by the state to complete the school year on time," Armstrong said. "The state requires that we have 1,062 hours of instructional time instead of the old requirement of a certain number of days so we will still be getting out of school at the appointed time.

Armstrong also gave the BOE, at it's regular April meeting Monday night, an update on the school improvement goals set for the system. He was having a hard time holding back his excitement, but he said he is confident students here will have greatly improved scores on the annual state test which will begin here next Monday, April 25.

"From all the data we have collected, it looks like we are ready to take a big step forward thanks to the hard work of all the principals, teachers, support staff and students," Armstrong said.

Lawrence County High School was in the bottom ten in the state last year and as a consequence, qualified for a three year $1.5 million Student Improvement Grant (SIG) through the Kentucky Dept. of Education. "The monies have allowed specialized instruction for high school teachers and principals and allowed them to change the way teaching is done here," Armstrong said. 

He added that he believes the three year grant will be continued for next year because LCHS has met its goals so far this school year.

During the meeting each principal from all six county schools presented their plans for progress for their schools and updated the board members on how they are implementing the board required changes in the curriculum. Each one spoke excitedly about the prospects for student academic achievement and how they have collected data on each student to best suit his/her needs.

The BOE unanimously approved the 2011-2012 District Improvement Plan as well as the mission statement.

Armstrong noted that students all over the school system know exactly what it takes to achieve success. "I was in one of the schools last week and I happened to ask one of the students what his score was on the achievement scoring guide provided for him by his school, and he readily answered and told me what his goals were for making a jump," Armstrong told the board.

In addition Lawrence County Schools Academic Coordinator Cassandra Webb (shown above, right ) updated the board specifically on different processes used to collect data on the students and then implement it in the classroom. "I'm very excited about our scores this year, our teachers and students have worked extremely hard all year and I think it's about to pay off," Ms. Webb said. 

During the public comments section of the meeting well known local activist Patty Wallace inquired as to the possibility of learning what the salaries and other benefits, including all extra jobs, for central office employees are set at currently. "There is a lot of mumbling in public about this issue and since this is very close to the time that teachers and other staff have to be notified of their employment next year, I think the board should clear it all up by showing the people what they make," Ms. Wallace said.

She added that she believes Armstrong has tried to eliminate what a performance recent audit called "over-staffing" in the central office by not hiring replacements for those who retire, but, she noted, nobody has retired. She also told Armstrong that the salaries of the central office staff should be proportionatly equal to teachers and other school employees. " there's no way we should have to lose teachers because of this overstaffing and over payment of a few at the top," Wallace said after the meeting.

Armstrong said he believes at least one central office worker will retire this year and one county-wide employee, too. 

Armstrong also told Ms. Wallace that he did not know if he could release that information because of personal privacy issues, but Board Attorney Michael Schmidt said the board can indeed release the salaries and the names of the central office employees -- and anyone else who works for the school system. "In the old days school systems were required to publish the salaries of the school employees every year," Schmidt said. "I am certain that you can legally give Ms. Wallace a copy of the salaries and the names."

Ms. Wallace said she will pick the list up at the board's office this week.

Another audience member asked if the automotive program at LCHS will be brought back next school year. It has been shut down since the first semester of this school year with no explanation given by school officials as to why. Armstrong told the audience member, whose name could not be determined, that the schedule for next school year at LCHS has not been completed and he is "not sure" if auto mechanics will be offered.



Also at last night's meeting the BOE:

 

Unanimously Approved  the following Consent Agenda:

 

A. Approved per diem and expenses for members present

 

B. Approved Requests:

 

1. Use of Facility: LEES (Tamara Goble) baby shower

2. LCHS trip to King's Island (Puryear, Burton, Shirkey, Redmiles)

3. Blaine Elementary 8th Grade Trip to Pigeon Forge

4. Use of Facility: Lawrence County Humane Society use of LWES - "Walk For the Animals", April 30, 8:30-11:30 a.m.

5. Louisa West Elementary Trip to Inez Main Street Cinema

 

C. Approved Contracts:

 

1. Louisa East Elementary and Queen's Fundraising for Fun Flatables - May 13, 2011

2. Lawrence County School District 2010-2011 Auditor's Contract (Dan Howard)

3. Kramer Entertainment Agency Inc. with Louisa West Elementary

 

The BOE also:

 

8. Approved unanimously the second reading of Revised Policies: 03.2232 Sick Leave - Classified Personnel and 03.1232 Sick Leave - Certified Personnel and Second Reading of New Policies: 03.1231 Personal Leave - Certified Personnel and 03.2231 Personal Leave-Classified Personnel

 

9. Approved appointment of Board Treasurer effective June 1, 2011. Armstrong said Central Office employee Edris Humphrey will take over the position and forgo the $5,000 stipend usually paid to the Treasurer. Current Treasurer Betty Shannon has resigned effective June 1, 2011.

 

10. Approved Leave of Absence: Amanda Adams

 

11. Approved 2010-2011 Title IX Report

 

12. Approved District partnership with Morehead State University on the National Science Foundation Project

13. Approved permission to apply for Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program Grants

14. Approved permission to bid banking services/depositories. Inez Deposit Bank is currently the depository of school board funds. 

15. Approved Superintendent to seek services of an architect to advise the BOE on matters that other contractors focusing on energy may not come up with. The school system is gearing up for a construction program that could cost as much as $10 million in the next decade.

 

16. Approved to enter Executive Session for preliminary discussion relating to evaluation of the Superintendent pursuant to KRS 61.810 (1)(k) and KRS 156.557 (4)(d)

17. Approved return to Open Session

18. Approved adoption of Superintendent's Summative Evaluation


Superintendent’s Personnel Action/Update

April 18, 2011

Hiring:

Richard Lambert - Teacher at Lawrence County High School

Sarah Blevins - Teacher at Louisa East Elementary School (1-Year)

Substitute Teachers

Edgar West

Jennifer West

Substitute Instructional Assistant

Josh McCoy

Substitute Bus Driver

Robert Mullins

Resignations

Jennifer Justice - Teacher at Louisa Middle School

Ralph Fugett - Bus Driver

Old Sheriff's office in courthouse is being 'fixed up' by VFW, American Legion;

 

LOUISA -- Lawrence County fiscal court members voted unanimously today to lease the old sheriff's office portion of the courthouse (shown above) to the VFW and American Legion for 99 years rent free and the county will pick up the tab for utilities and insurance. The facility will be used as a place for meetings and other activities.

The vets had been forced to move out of their headquarters at the old Vinson Memorial building last month after a state order requiring that facility to be used for the Vinson Memorial Museum full time was issued. The county previously received a $250,000 grant to improve the Vinson Building for the purpose of tourism development, specifically the Fred Vinson Memorial Museum, Judge/Executive John Osborne said. The vets had been at odds with the Vinson Memorial Committee over use of the building since the grant was applied for and received.

"Because a former administration accepted the grant funds for that purpose, that's what it has to be used for, there's nothing we can do about it," Osborne told the court last month. Several veterans were at work cleaning up the old sheriff's office today and, although they said it was in a real mess, they were glad to have a permanent home -- sort of.

"We were supposed to have the other building for life, but that has disappeared, I hope this new deal from the county doesn't go the same way," said veteran Martin Hay. "I think this will make a good place for us but there is a lot of work to do."

Osborne explained at the meeting that the veterans can move items from the kitchen area they had in the old building (shown above) to the new headquarters including stove, refrigerator and other appliances, but they cannot remove any permanent facilities such as built-in cabinets. He also said the county will pick up the bill for a new flag pole to be placed in front of the new offices. "I believe we can get a good one for $500 to $800 and we will be glad to pay for that," Osborne said.

Hay and his group were attempting to decide where to place the pole this morning after the meeting. 

UPDATE:  We indvertantly left the following out of yesterday's fiscal court story:

County Clerk Chris Jobe asked the court what he should do about the Timmy and Lori Collins easement to build a water line to their property that was approved at last month's meeting. He said they have not come in to sign the easement. The court agreed to give the Collins' more time to get the matter completed. Jobe also told the court that the county board of elections had voted to move the Stella Moore voting place to Louisa West Elementary School for the May. 2011 Primary Election. "We have plenty of room at Louisa West even when we add it to having the West Louisa precinct there, too," Jobe said. He also noted that the Deep Hole voting place will be moved to the old Yatesville Boat Sales location. The company is not currently operating so, Jobe said, owner Danny Vanhoose had agreed to allow voting to be held there.


In other action the court:

  • Took care of housekeeping items such as approving the quarterly financial report, the first reading of a budget amendment, a Treasurer's request to transfer funds, and to pay the previous month's bills. Vote was unanimous on all items.
  • Approved the Lawrence County Conservation District budget and annual plan of work for the upcoming year. Osborne's office supplied a copy of the budget after the meeting upon request.
  • Approved unanimously  the Lawrence County Extension Office budget for the upcoming year. A copy of that budget was also supplied.
  • Agreed to remove Earl Boggs and Janet Pelphrey from the Tourism Board. Osborne explained that the board was set up for seven members and nine were appointed including those still serving previous terms.
  • Unanimously agreed to Osborne's appointment of Earl Boggs to a four year term on the Solid Waste Board replacing Bill Richards, the County's Solid Waste Coordinator.
  • Approved a correction that Osborne referred to as a "typo" which had the name of the Louisa Area Fire & Rescue Board instead of the Lawrence County Fire and Rescue Board as it has been called in the past because of a mistake.
  • Corrected another mistake by changing the expiration date of Colleen Stone's term on the Louisa Fire and Rescue Board to Dec. 31, 2013.
  • Voted to have County Clerk Chris Jobe advertise for bids on the new HVAC system for the courthouse which was approved last month. The cost will be paid out of a $125,000 line item of the state budget that was previously earmarked for an "Economic development Center" by the previous court.
  • Approved the first reading of the county's Solid Waste Ordinance. One local trash hauler asked if the county is going to issue the permits which have already been paid for that were required when Rumpke pulled out of the county residential trash pickup business because of a dispute over pricing last year. "We have already paid the fee and been inspected by everyone from the DOT to the Health Dept. but we still don't have any proof we have been approved, the hauler (whose name we missed) said. She added that her company had recently been stopped by a DOT officer and questioned about the permit but was given 15 days to rectify the situation. Osborne said the permits will be issued as soon as he could get them made, hopefully this month. He also said he will have a meeting this week withe local haulers.
  • Approved a resolution to correct yet more mistakes that had been made by a previous administration. This time the problem is with the coal severance tax funding of the Raven Rock pump station which is already complete but funding allocations were not done in the proper manner, Osborne said.
  • Approved a request by Yatesville State Park manager Mike Sullivan for the county to use its equipment to cut weeds beside the highway leading to the golf course. Sullivan told Osborne that the state cuts its share of the right of way, but there is a section that takes about five hours to cut, that he needs help with. The vote was unanimous once again.Approved the signing of a 20 ft. right of way for Columbia Gas, inc. for the County Industrial Park. Osborne explained that the gas line is in place but the county never got around to officially approving an easement. County Attorney Mike Hogan requested that Columbia Gas have its attorneys prepare the easement instead of one of its field agents.
  • Approved the county park's rules and regulations and also approved a rate raise for tent camping from $12 per night to $15 in order to match rates at all other state parks.
  • Set a special meeting for May 3, 2011 which will deal with issues surrounding the bonding of the new $16.2 million Courts Building, and the accepting of bids on the new HVAC system for the courthouse if enough are received by that time to make a decision.

The court also heard a lengthy explanation by Hogan of the payment of medical bills at the Big Sandy Detention Center by accused swindler Tim Campbell, who is ill and currently being housed at the state's LaGrange Penitentiary medical facility. Hogan said that Campbell is also charged in Johnson County and somehow the bills Campbell ran up while being held on a Johnson County warrant were being charged to Lawrence County at the tune of over $100,000.

"This simply is not fair and I want the court's approval to see what we can do about making sure each county pays their fair share," Hogan said. the court agreed.

(See video of Hogan's statement concerning the Campbell issue on The Lazer as soon as we get it processed and posted) 


Amount of pay for deputies at issue, Lemaster says

 

LOUISA -- Confusion reigned at today's Lawrence County Fiscal Court meeting as the topic of adding an additional deputy Coroner came up as the last item on a 26 item agenda. Judge/Executive John Osborne asked the court for a motion allowing Coroner Mike Wilson to hire an additional deputy in order to offer 24 hour service to the public, but after asking three times Osborne declared the agenda item dead because of the lack of a motion.

An unofficial, unscientific poll in The Lazer last week showed overwhelming public support for a full time Coroner's office.

When asked during the public comments part of the meeting why none of the magistrates were willing to make a motion on the issue, District 2 member John J. Lemaster, right, said the court wants Wilson to come back to next month's meeting and formally ask the court for an additional deputy. Wilson was in the audience and promptly came to the front and made such a request.

"I would like to ask the court as humbly as I know how, to allow me to hire an additional deputy coroner," Wilson said, returning to his seat.

But Osborne said the court had already acted on the issue and it will have to be delayed until the May regular meeting before it can be brought up again.

Why did the court not approve this today since he is present and has asked for what you wanted him to? Lemaster was asked. 

"I don't think anyone on this court is against Mike (Wilson) having another deputy, but when we talked about it the first time, the salary of the deputy was to be $8,600 per year and then it got to $16,000 per year at the last meeting, and we think that is too much," Lemaster said.

County Attorney Mike Hogan then interjected his legal opinion that if the county approves the hiring of an additional assistant, so that there will be someone on duty 24 hours per day, seven days per week they must be paid at least minimum wage according to federal wage guidelines. 

But Osborne presented a letter from Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) attorney Rich Ornstein which spells out the pay guidelines for Kentucky coroners and their deputies. The letter includes a sample list of the minimum a county of a certain size must pay and for a county with less than 20,000 citizens, like Lawrence County, the pay is set at a minimum of $300 per month as Lemaster suggested.

Wilson, who is the longest serving Lawrence County official beginning his fourth consecutive term, has one deputy at the present time who is on call more than 70 hours per week and makes $8,600 per year. He wants to hire his son, Chris Wilson, who is already trained and qualified, as an extra deputy so the full time load can be taken off the current deputy and himself. Wilson makes $12,000 per year, just over the lowest salary allowed for Coroners in Kentucky. According to Hogan, Wilson can make as much as $59,000, plus expenses.

"If you guys want KACo to take care of your legal business, that is up to you, they can come here and do district court if they want to," Hogan quipped. "But as your legal advisor, I'm telling you right now that you can only work the deputy coroners for as much time as the minimum wage calls for."

KACo is a quasi-governmental organization that many Kentucky counties look to for guidance. It is not an official state agency and membership is optional.

Wilson said last month that he had over 100 Coroner calls last year and the work is becoming too much for he and his current deputy to handle. Wilson has even purchased his own van for transporting bodies at just over $12,000 out of his pocket. The vehicle is only used for coroner business, he said.

Lemaster added that the court was fine with Wilson having two deputies at $3,000 per year as KACo's attorney says is the minimum. "We have an opinion from the state that we can pay this as a salary and that is all we have to pay," Lemaster said.

But Hogan said although Lemaster is correct about setting the minimum salary, the deputies can only work as many hours as the $3,000 would pay for using the minimum wage as a guide. "If these guys can only work ten hours a week each, I don't see how the problem of understaffing is solved," Hogan said.

The Lazer staff is preparing a video of the entire discussion and will post it later this week.

Solid Waste "Deputy Dawg" served only one day;

In a related note, Richards announcedafter the meeting that his assistant, Billy D. Hall, hired by the Lawrence county Fiscal Court, has left the job --and after only one day.

Richards said yesterday that Hall did not like the ribbing he was taking over the position. "He just didn't like the way people were talking so he decided to quit," Richards said. He also said he does not foresee getting a replacement for Hall, who the court hired at $10 per hour for 20 hours per week to assist Richards, who has been on the job just over six months.

"Id rather just do the best I can do to keep this department at the level it has been, I will do it myself," Richards said.

Hall could not be reached for comment.



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