By Jeff Noble
WHITLEY COUNTY —
Several items involving the upgrade of the primary Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system at Central Primary School were approved by the Whitley County Board of Education at their regular meeting Thursday.
One of those approved was an application for the upgrade to be done using Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, or “QZAB” funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
According to the Department of Education’s website, the bonds are non-interest bearing bonds, where the borrowing school district pays the principal back in 25 years. On average, the federal government covers all of the interest on the bonds, which enables schools to save up to 50 percent of the costs of the projects. The website says in effect, when a school district issues a QZAB, it’s like getting 50 percent of the funds as a grant.
Board members were told QZAB is used only for renovation-type funding, such as the one planned for Central Primary. The district would get a savings of about $430,000 if they used QZAB funding.
In relation to the funding, approval was also given to an amended BG-1 (Buildings and Grounds) document for the upgrade, as well as approval for GESC (Guaranteed Energy Savings Contract) project scope documents.
All three items approved for Central Primary are pending approval from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).
Approval was also given for GESC project BG-2 forms for projects at Central Primary, Whitley County High, Whitley Central Intermediate and Whitley Middle Schools, as well as Boston, Oak Grove and Whitley North Elementary Schools, pending KDE approval.
CSI of Lexington was given approval to perform a geotechnical survey for the district’s new Pleasant View Elementary School. Also approved was a resolution for the school system to receive coal severance money from the state totaling around $38,000. The amount would be around $18,000 for the first year, with the district expecting to get $20,000 to be used for equipment. An additional $20,000 was expected to be received in coal severance funds for next year.
Among other actions, the school system’s district facilities plan was approved by the board. The plan lists all of the district’s needs from a building standpoint over the next school years. The total unmet needs were listed to the state as $23,970,584 during that period, and is subject to KDE approval.
Approval was also given to changes in the school calendar for the upcoming 2013-14 school year. August 7 is the projected first day of school in Whitley County, with two days in October being early release days, where students will be sent home early while teachers work on class plans.
Superintendent Scott Paul got more than a passing grade by board members at the meeting. They went into a closed, or executive session to discuss Paul’s evaluation. When they returned to the regular session, between the boxes marked “satisfactory” or “not satisfactory”, the board gave him a check mark in the “satisfactory” category.
Overall, on a scale of zero to six, Paul’s performance in 12 performance criteria categories was between 4.5 for “exceptional” and 6.0 for “superior,” averaging between 5.5 and 6.0. On Paul’s strengths, board members said, “(He) has an excellent ability to communicate with people in the community, staff and students.”
Before the meeting, nine schools in the district were recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service with certification in the Healthier US School Challenge. Healthier US is a voluntary certification initiative which recognizes schools participating in the National School Lunch Program which has created healthier school environments through promoting nutrition and physical activity.
Six schools were “Silver Certified,” while three were “Bronze Certified.” Awards were presented at the session to the six Silver Certified winners — Oak Grove, Pleasant View, Whitley East and Boston Elementary schools, along with Whitley County Middle School and the Rockholds Oppportunity Center.
Also getting recognition was a Whitley Central Elementary student, Trevor Garrett, who received a UNITE certificate in Whitley County.