|By Al Owens
The Lewis County Board
of Education met in regular session last Monday night and fielded questions from a group
of concerned parents whose children attend Laurel Elementary.
David Skidmore spoke for the group. The major issue was the multi-age grouping of
classes used at Laurel. The group also wanted to know if the children came first and then
questioned the use of instructional assistants and how the board uses its funds to hire
Skidmore noted that the children read so many accelerated reading books that the
library ran out of books for them to read. He also asked about the hiring of 100-day
Superintendent Maurice Reeder Jr. responded to each issue after Skidmore finished
Reeder told the group that multi-age grouping is required by KERA and is being done all
across the state with great success.
He said that the local district had hired instructional aides in the past because they
had the money to provide the extra help and did so to improve the quality of education in
Lewis County. Reeder lamented that now the school must cut its budget by $400,000 next
year because of the state's budget suffers from a shortfall, and the only way to make that
cut was to reduce the number of employees. Some teachers that are retiring will not be
replaced, and two employees leaving the Central Office will not be replaced. The budget
problem means that the district will have fewer teachers than in previous years.
Reeder said that he is proud of the 100-day personnel the district hires because they
are all experienced and dedicated professionals. Most of them are basically retired
teachers who are yet dedicated to their profession and do a marvelous job.
He added that all the money the district has cannot be spent on teachers because the
school system must deal with other needs as well like transportation, maintenance, etc. He
said that about 80 percent of the money goes for instruction.
Regarding the need for books, Reeder said that money is provided for books based on the
average daily attendance, and that means that smaller schools like Laurel have less money.
He noted, however, that when Jerry Bloomfield approached him with the news that the
children needed more books that $3,000 was immediately allocated to provide them.
The superintendent assured the parents that in this school district the children always
come first and the employees second.
He said that Laurel is one of the top elementary schools in the region and in the
Reeder announced to the board that Robert Hall is retiring and Barbara Kennedy is
leaving the Central Office to work for the state education department. He presented Hall
with a plaque honoring his 14 years of service to the district. He teased Kennedy about
not having a plaque for her yet.
Kennedy told the board that the school district was making tremendous progress on its
portfolios for the fourth, seventh and 12th grades.
With a long agenda the board went to work and took care of several routine matters in
It approved the textbook plan for Laurel Elementary. Laurel is the only school without
a site-based council so the board has to approve the plan.
The board approved the job description and the salary schedule for a transportation
coordinator and an instructional supervisor.
It also approved the final BG 1 for the
Middle School renovation and construction project. This is the final document with the
complete and accurate numbers. The project total came to $2,803,910.
The board approved two change orders for that project. One was for a smorgasbord of
small items and totaled $28,873.97. The other was for a deduction of $1,828 for some
shrubbery that didnt survive. It will be replaced before next Fall. Both those
totals are included in the final BG 1.
The board approved the payment of the dues of $1,095 for membership in the Council of
for Better Education. It also approved the Bonds of Depository for $1,195,000 and the
treasurers bond for $200,000.
The Implementation/Impact Check of 2003-2004 Comprehensive District Improvement Plan
was approved. Belinda Forman explained that the plan continues the good things and
completes other things such as the exiting standards, the policies and procedures and
continues the curriculum mapping.
The board approved the salary schedule for all certified and classified employees. Most
of the workers receive a 1.5 percent pay increase. The only salaries that did not change
were those for the coaches and substitute teachers. The coaches do get an automatic
increase if they stay over one year.
The fleet, boiler, education legal, technology, general liability and property
insurance bid went to KISBIT at a cost of $88,346. That is a $2,000 decrease from last
The diesel and gas bid was awarded to Bulk Plants, Inc., Ashland.
The oven/range hood systems and fire extinguisher inspection bid for 2004-05 went to
Century got the sprinkler system/fire alarm inspection bid. Mobile Therapy was awarded
the bid for physical therapy at a cost of $45 per hour. The occupational therapy will cost
$50 per hour and $65 for evaluation. Speech therapy will cost $9,000 per month for 12
The board approved the first reading of the alternative school handbook with only minor
It also approved the KEDC Consortium membership at a cost of $27,141.91.
The board approved the 2004-2006 Comprehensive District Plan. Belinda Forman told the
board that the district does an improvement plan every two years. She said the new plan
has two major initiatives. One is the focus on the Reading First grants in order to change
the way reading is taught in the primary grades. The other is the switch to a research
based math program.
The board approved the Laurel Elementary 2004-2006 Comprehensive School Improvement
Plan because the school does not have a site-based council.
The board continued by approving the Postpone Sexual Involvement (PSI) program through
the Health Department. The district has used this program for several years.
The board concluded its routine business by approving the first reading of the Policies
and Procedures Update and a field trip to the 4-H camp in Nicholas County.
The board entered a brief closed session and upon returning to open session Reeder
announced that a bus driver has been suspended for 10 days without pay.