WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (5/22/13) - The Webster County School Board continued to move forward with plans for the Webster County Middle School Monday night, approving the 100% design documents for the renovation that are awaiting approval of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).
The final design plan will give the board two alternatives as they move forward with construction and renovation. A media center, located near the new entrance to the middle school and an expanded parking lot are both outlined in the plan, but either item can be dropped if time or money requires.
The rest of the design remains pretty much the same in either alternative.
“The middle school will function as a fully separate building,” said engineer Jeff Halverson of Clotfelter-Samokar, the engineering firm that has designed the building.
A new fire wall will separate the high school and middle school, with a fire door between the two. The only catch was that to be up to code, the fire door will not be able to be locked as had previously been discussed by the board during the middle school forums.
“It’s all going to be about how administrators and teachers work together,” said chairman Jeff Pettit. “At all of the successful schools we visited, high school students are used in the middle schools, not locked out. Separation is not that big an issue, if the administrators handle it correctly. We’ll have to work to educate our parents and our teachers.”
Board member Tim McCormick requested that instead of the solid door proposed by the engineer, that a window be added to allow administrators the ability to see who might be coming through the door.
In all, the final blueprints call for 12 classrooms, five resource rooms, the new administrative suite, expanded boys and girls restrooms and the optional media center and parking area. The base estimate for the construction and renovation came to $4,196,483, just over $2 million short of the $4.4 million the board approved last fall.
The board voted 5-0 to approve the plan, then voted unanimously to approve $35,998.34 for renovations to the roof in the middle school wing.
During the community input portion of the meeting, Tabitha Alsbrook presented the board with a thank you card from the Webster County Band. In April the board granted a request for $10,450 to purchase new instruments.
Webster County Food Service Director Shane Bosaw reported to the board on several issues. The first was an outline of the Community Eligibility Option, which provides free meals to all children in a school district. Currently Webster County would only be partially eligible, which would most likely cost the district more money than it saved.
He did say, however, that it looked like a more viable option for the 2014-2015 school year.
Bosaw also reported that the Seamless Summer meal option was not going to be an option this year. Instead the district will go back to the Summer Food Service Plan that it has used in years past.
“We’ve lost most of the church organizations that have been helping us out,” he said. “They were not happy about giving out cold sack lunches. But unless their kitchen is rated for food service, we can’t use it, and we don’t have the ability to prepare food in our kitchen and still deliver it at the proper temperature.”
In other business, chairman Jeff Pettit reported the names of the five law firms that had expressed written interest in the school board attorney position. They were Fraiser, Rogers and Peak of Marion, the board attorney for Crittenden County Schools; Jimmy Gentry of Dixon; William Cox of Madisonville; Mike Alsley of Bowling Green; and Ben Leonard of Providence.
The board will interview the prospective candidates at the next meeting on June 3, 2013. Current board attorney Amelia Zachary did not submit a letter of interest to the board.
Superintendent Dr. James Kemp presented the board with a proposed budget of $17,700,631 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The budget does not include the 1% raise that the board requested Dr. Kemp look for earlier this year.
“Until you set on this side of the table and see the payroll, you don’t understand that it’s not as easy to find $100,000 for raises as you would think,” said Jeff Pettit.
“To get a 1% raise, we would have to look at cutting teachers,” said Dr. Kemp.
“I’m not going down that road,” said Jeff Pettit. “We’ve cut the teachers as close as I would like.”
After distributing the SBDM money earlier this year, the board was able to maintain all but one of its current teaching positions.
Dr. Kemp then presented the board with proposal to renew extended days for employees who work beyond the normal 187 days in the school calendar. These days were for administrators, counselors, librarians and vocational instructors. There was also an additional extension of 20 days for Insurrectional Supervisor Kim Saalwaechter, which would amount to about $8,000.
“I’m sure Kim is overwhelmed, but I can’t see giving extended days to administrators when we’ve cut one teacher and can’t give increases to the others,” said board member Tim McCormick. “We keep adding extended days. That takes away from our teachers.”
““When our budget is over $10 million in salaries, how do we make it fair across the board?” asked Pettit. It needs to be fair and equitable for all employees.”
Dr. Kemp informed the board that the time to reduce extended days was already passed. At this point the best they could do would be to freeze the extensions at the current level, which was what the board voted unanimously to do.
Finally the board entertained a request from the football team for $3,451.60, to cover the yearly cost of inspecting and repairing helmets and pads.
After some discussion of how long the board has been paying for the inspection, Tim McCormick told the board members, “If we don’t pay this, I’m not sure we will continue to have a football program.”
The board seemed to agree, voting 5-0 to approve the payment.
J-E News Editor
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