By Sarah Gauze
A regular meeting of the Lawrence County Board of Education was held at Lawrence County High School in the library on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, at 6:00 PM. Board members Jim See (Chairman), Maddlene Roberts (Vice Chair), Garnett Skaggs, Barbara Robinson, and Susie Rice were all present in person.
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Jim See. The first action was to amend the agenda to include additional agenda items. Ms. Robinson made a motion and was seconded by Ms. Skaggs. The motion passed to include the additional agenda items.
In the Student/Staff Presentations/Recognitions section, there was a moment of silence granted for Ms. Brittany Chapman, a newly hired assistant aid substitute, who recently passed away.
Also, the LC Board of Education declared Feb 18-25, 2023, to be National FFA Week in LC Schools. Ms. Blackburn, FFA Advisor, Emma Salyer, LC FFA President, along with FFA members Shelbie Preece and Grace Hylton attended the meeting.
The ladies discussed how being involved in the FFA program has positively benefited them and other members. The LC Board of Education signed a proclamation designating Feb 18- 25, 2023 National FFA Week.
Dr. Fletcher provided more information to the Board and those in attendance during the superintendent communication portion of the meeting:
- LCHS is hosting the boys’ and girls’ 58th District Tournaments throughout the week of Feb 20- 23, 2023. ( Editor’s note: LC won both girls and boys as well as cheerleading basketball championships this week and will play in the Regional tourneys next week)
- LCHS Principal, Myram Brady, and CAO, Katie Webb have been holding discussions with MSU and WKU on Grow Your Own programs and dual credit pathways for high school students. These programs may allow students to be instructional assistants, with pathways that may lead toward teaching degrees. Ms. Brady, Ms. Moore, and Ms. Webb are also working with local officials and the Kentucky Department of Education to add a fire science pathway for high school students. If the program is instituted as a pathway, it will be the only fire science pathway east of I-75. This pathway may allow students to become Certified Fire Fighters and may also lead to an EMT pathway.
- Dr. Fletcher, LC Superintendent, has published three articles concerning the district facilities plan, the local planning committee, and the nickel investment process. In discussing the nickel tax, Dr. Fletcher explained this money cannot be used for salaries. It can only specifically be used for construction purposes. The rate is currently estimated at 12.4 cents per $100 of property tax. So, for some examples, if you own $100 in property tax, the estimated rate would equal $0.124. If you own $1000 in property, the estimated tax rate would equal $1.24 in tax. If you own $10,000 in property, the estimated tax rate would equal $12.40. If you own $100,000 in property, the estimated tax rate would equal $124.00.
- There was discussion of other counties around Lawrence County that now have the nickel tax, along with newly constructed schools. Currently, Boyd, Lewis, Magoffin, Martin, and Morgan Counties have the nickel tax in place for the construction of new schools. Johnson County is also another county with the two-nickel tax, in the process of building a new high school.
- LC Schools has invested $8.6 million of vocational funding, for a gain of an extra $225,087.80 of unrestricted funds. Ms. Peters, LC Financial Officer, completed the portion of the process for investing the LAVEC funds with an expected return of $225, 087.80, which equals an earnings yield of 4.76%.
- The vocational building construction will be completed in two phases. The main vocational building and greenhouse will be in the first phase of construction. The second phase of construction will include renovations inside the existing vocational facilities.
- The board discussed the last day for students is currently set as May 19, 2023, with no future missed days of school.
In the public comments, two concerned parents discussed student bullying within the school district. Dr. Fletcher had the documented parent information copied and presented the information to Ms. Prince, LC School’s DPP, and Mr. Shaw, LC School’s lawyer, for an investigation into the issue. (At this point, all items have been investigated and addressed appropriately.)
In student learning and support services, the minutes of Jan 17, 2023, Regular Meeting and Jan 18, 2023, Special Meeting, and Jan 31, 2023, Special Meeting & Budget Work Session were approved. In the claims and orders of the treasurer, some of the expenses included fuel and an Anatomage table. ESSER funds were used for ViewSonic interactive televisions. There were expenses for the general food service needs.
The monthly financial report was delivered by Ms. Peters, the LC Finance Officer. The beginning balance for January was $14,463,828. The total revenue was $1,793,442. The expenditures for January came in at $2,634,538. The Fund 1 cash balance for the month of January was $2,939,288. The ending balance for the month of January was $13,678,450. In addition, this ending balance includes the $8.6 million from the vocational project that hadn’t been invested at the end of January. Expenditures exceeded revenues due to bond payments from previous construction projects.
In the consent agenda, Dr. Fletcher discussed the Tember Tales program. There was information provided about the JROTC requesting assistance with the completion of the obstacle course. The acceptance of donations to several of the LC School groups was discussed at length. There were several use of facilities granted for outside groups to hold events. The annual Kentucky School Board Association will be holding its conference on Feb 24-26, 2023, at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY.
In the construction, building, and grounds projects/updates section, there was a bonding potential update provided by Lincoln Theinert, Municipal Advisor of Ross Sinclaire Associates. Mr. Theinert discussed the local bonding potential of $13,300,000, with the School Facilities Construction Commission bonding potential of $1,700,000. This makes the total current bonding potential $15,000,000. If Lawrence County approves the additional double nickel the projected amount may be $11,500,000 from local taxpayers over the next 20 years. When the additional double nickels are equalized (or matched) by the state, the additional funds given to Lawrence County would be at least $13.5 million. The total projected bonding would approximately total $40,000,000 with the current potential added to the local tax money combined with the matching funds from the state.
The Lawrence County Board of Education unanimously approved the ‘intent’ for a double nickel equivalent tax rate on real and personal property, which will produce a revenue of 12.4 cents per one hundred dollars of property assessed. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, LC District’s five-cent equivalent rate is 6.2 cents. The LC District’s five cents equivalent rate changes each fiscal year and may be higher or lower when applied to future tax bills. The LC District will not begin collecting the additional revenue from this levy until the 2023-24 fiscal year. The revenue produced by this increase will be dedicated to the renovation of existing school facilities, new construction, and debt service. There will be a tax hearing in the near future as part of the next steps in the process.
In the Softball Facilities Project/Athletic Upgrades section, Mr. Burns discussed that sidewalks, bleacher pads, and footers have all been poured. The construction group Is currently waiting on the metal structure to be shipped. They expect shipment during the second week of March. However, that date has been set with no shipping delays. Once the materials are shipped, it will be ready to install.
In the Vocational Education Center (LAVEC) renovation and expansion, Dr. Fletcher explained the construction will happen in two phases. The first phase will be the construction of the greenhouse and the carpentry/JROTC facility building. The second phase will be on the renovations of the current vocational facilities. Ross Tarrant Architects provided an invoice for professional services on the LAVEC in the amount of $47,297.35.
There was an update on the LCHS Football Field Turf Project. The local (county) government worked relentlessly to provide soil removal from the field. The workers continued well past midnight, to make sure the soil was removed before flooding rains moved into our area. Dr. Fletcher thanked the local government workers for their hard work on this project. The soil level decreased from twenty-eight inches down to ten and twelve inches. The amount of money saved through their efforts is estimated at $60,000.
The Lawrence County Schools Portrait of a Graduate was discussed. The public, school, and board members’ feedback on the current draft was appreciated. Currently, the LC Schools have a Character Counts curriculum introduced and active in all the schools. The proposed Portrait of a Graduate plan includes partnering with community businesses for shadowing or internships during a student’s senior year. The program would help students develop soft skills and be ready to move seamlessly into the workforce.
The school calendar was discussed, offering two options available. Option A focuses on a full week off for fall break. While Option B allows for a full week off for Thanksgiving break. Dr. Fletcher recommended Option A: School Calendar. The school calendar remains open for discussion.
The next Regular School Board Meeting will be held Monday, March 20, 2023, at Blaine Elementary School at 6:00 PM. All residents are always invited to attend the Lawrence County Board Meetings, to become aware of the issues affecting our students and schools. The meetings may also be viewed virtually through the public viewing link. A copy of the most recent Lawrence County Board agendas and meetings may be found on the current Lawrence County District Schools webpage at www.lawrence.k12.ky.us.