TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

February 26, 2014

Knox Schools vote on agreement

Reciprocal agreement with Corbin approved by Board of Education with 3-2 tally

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

A pair of resounding “nos” echoed off the walls of the Knox Central High School library Tuesday, closing out a special-called meeting of the Knox County Board of Education.

The no votes came from Board vice-chairman Sam Watts and newly-appointed board member Gordon Hinkle — and they were in response to a vote concerning a reciprocal agreement with the Corbin Board of Education.

That agreement was approved with a 3-2 vote Tuesday.

The Corbin Board of Education approved a non-resident student agreement during a special-called meeting last Thursday with Knox County Schools, which would go into effect in the upcoming school year.

That one-year agreement allows 405 non-resident students from Knox County to attend the Corbin Independent Schools for the 2014-15 school year.

It would also allow any and all Corbin students to attend the Knox County Public Schools for that same year.

Now the agreement goes to the Kentucky Department of Education for approval.

The last two items on the Knox County school board’s agenda prior to adjournment was an executive session and the vote concerning the reciprocal agreement.

After the approximately 40-minute long session, the meeting reconvened — and Board attorney Ashlee D. Smith said that no final action was taken during the closed executive session.

Then came the time for the board to discuss and/or take action on the reciprocal agreement with Corbin schools.

Board chairman Merrill Smith motioned to approve the agreement, with a second from Board member Dexter Smith.

“You know it’s going to start all over again,” Watts said to board members. “And all that we’ve done the last four years will go down the drain.”

Hinkle was concerned that the board had already visited this subject — during the last board meeting, where it was voted down, he said.

The other reciprocal agreements with other school systems “are basically an even deal” concerning the numbers of students “traded” between counties.

“We’re not going to stop the kids from going — we’re stopping the money from going,” Watts said.

Dexter Smith felt money would come back to the county.

“If we give this agreement (approximately) $2.5 million would come back into the county,” he said.

HInkle said the gap between the number of students who come to Knox and who go to Corbin is wide — and felt this vote was redundant.

“We don’t act just because they act,” Hinkle said.

“If (we) approve that tonight, we’re throwing (that four years of work) away,” Watts said. “They (Corbin Board of Education) know they’re beat…

“If (the agreement) is approved tonight then it will go to the court, then dismiss the case — that’s what Corbin counted on (because) they know they’re going to get beat in court,” Watts added.

In 2009, Knox County ended the contract allowing students living in that county to attend Corbin schools at no cost. It marked the third time Corbin Independent appealed to the state after Knox County rejected the agreement.

A lawsuit filed by the Corbin board is still pending in Franklin County Circuit Court.

“I think this is speculation,” Merrill Smith said, and then called the vote.

In a voice vote, Board members Merrill Smith, Dexter Smith and Charles Merida approved the reciprocal agreement, with Watts and Hinkle voting against.

In other board business:

— Overstaffed in 19 positions — that’s what Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles said happened after January’s meeting.

Sprinkles explained that the tentative Site Based Decision Making council allocations for the 2014-2015 school year created that number.

“As a result of the standing policies approved at the previous board meeting, we’re overstaffed by 19 positions,” he said, adding the school system is seeking grant dollars to fund some of those 19. “We hope to receive funds soon (for six of those positions).”

But, he added, that leaves a remaining 13 positions.

Dexter Smith motioned to accept the tentative SBDM allocations, with a second from Watts. Board members were unanimous with this decision.

— The school system will now be advertising for bids for services after Tuesday’s meeting. Board members unanimously approved bid advertising for insurance, including worker’s compensation, property, fleet, general liability, educators’ legal liability and students accident, banking services, and auditing services.

— Board members unanimously agreed to pay the contractor for the roof replacement project at Flat Lick Elementary School. Merida said that a meeting was held “over that situation” earlier Tuesday — and motioned to approve the $64,080 payment. Dexter Smith seconded that motion.

— Board members then unanimously agreed to not pay the contractor in charge of Dewitt Elementary School renovations. “This is a problem area,” Merida said, and motioned to table the $4,995 payment, with a second from Dexter Smith.

— Board members also approved the contractor payment for the work completed at G.R. Hampton Elementary School. This payment goes toward the architect on the project. Watts motioned to approve the $4,265.51 payment, with a second from Merida.

— The architect for the work performed at Flat Lick Elementary was also approved for payment Tuesday. Merida motioned to make that $4,797.25 payment, with a second from Watts. Board members were unanimous with this decision.

— Maintenance will now have a new piece of equipment to work with after Tuesday’s meeting. Sprinkles explained bids were advertised for the purchase of a universal dump bed truck. Sprinkles said one bid was received.

Hinkle noted there was a need for the truck — but he had one stipulation. “That truck needs to have Knox County Public School signs put on each side of the (vehicle),” he said.

With that stipulation, Hinkle motioned to approve the $27,900 purchase, with a second from Dexter Smith. Board members were unanimous with this decision.

— A tad more than $1 million was agreed to be spent on school buses Tuesday — but those monies will come back to the school system after March.

Sprinkles explained that in the summer of 2013, Bluegrass International bus company sold the school system 10 school buses to use. “They’re with us now on the road,” he said.

He added that board members chose to finance the buses but that the bond sale would not take place until March.

“As soon as the bond sale occurs we’ll get reimbursed,” Sprinkles said, adding that Finance Officer Gertrude Smith did negotiate the interest down “to a reasonable amount.”

Dexter Smith motioned to make that payment, which was $919,560 for the buses and $12,097.30 in interest. Merrill Smith seconded that motion — and board members voted unanimously for that payment to be made.

— Board members unanimously agreed to pay Trane its final installment for the project to make the school system more energy efficient. That payment allows for a $150,000 retainer fee to cover any incidental costs found after the project is complete. Hinkle asked whether the savings could be seen, and it was learned the monitoring began last week.

Merrill Smith motioned to make that $314,800 payment, with a second from Watts.

— Board members voted to table a potential agreement providing health care for the schools. Two companies have expressed interest in garnering and maintaining that responsibility. While it was unclear which two companies want to put their hats in the ring, Hinkle expressed vocal support for one of those companies. One person from one of the companies was in house, but as the subject was tabled, was not provided an opportunity to speak. Merrill Smith invited her to attend next month’s meeting, where the issue will be discussed.

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