, Corbin, KY

February 27, 2013

Knox discusses reciprocal agreement

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By John L. Ross

Staff Writer

The pathway to an agreement between the Knox County School System and Corbin Independent Schools continues to be hard to see.

During Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the Knox County Board of Education, the last item on the agenda prior to adjournment was to discuss and/or approve a reciprocal agreement with Corbin Independent.

Little discussion was made about the agreement — or lack thereof — during the meeting. Board Vice Chair Sam Watts motioned “not to agree” with the proposal, and it was seconded by Board Member Dexter Smith. The board was unanimous with members who voted — Board Member Merrill Smith abstained.

Prior to that agenda item, the board unanimously voted to go into an executive session to discuss pending litigation.

Approximately an hour later, board members emerged and voted to return to regular session. Superintendent Walter Hulett then stood and announced “no final action was taken.” Nothing else was said on that matter.

The vote turning down the reciprocal agreement followed.

During January’s board of education meeting, several reciprocal agreements were discussed. Hulett said Corbin sent an agreement which did not include a specific number of students, but rather was worded “any or all” students.

He said other agreements to be voted upon were “traditional.”

Board Member Merrill Smith asked about a cap in the number. Hulett said the agreement is “the same one they’ve been sending.”

He said that Franklin Circuit Court suggested mediation.

“We tried two times (and were) unsuccessful,” Hulett said last month.

He explained that Corbin had appealed decisions in the past, and felt they would likely appeal again.

“It’s time to get a number,” he added. “(There’s) no relief at the state board.”

Board Member Dexter Smith said he wanted “a level playing field” when it came to the reciprocal agreements.

That’s when the board decided to table the agreement with Corbin until Tuesday.

Absent from the meeting was a board attorney. Charley Greene Dixon had been the board’s attorney, but has since stepped down.

Hulett said there are no plans to replace Dixon. He explained the board already has two attorneys, Johnny Turner and Larry Bryson. He said an attorney would not need to be present at all meetings, but when an attorney is required, Bryson would step in.

“We really don’t need more than two,” he said after Tuesday’s meeting.

In other school board business:

— Tentative allocations for the 2013-2014 Site-Based Decision Making groups were unanimously approved Tuesday.

Hulett explained they are “required to do this,” adding the final plan is due in May.

“This is purely a draft — it’s tentative — bare bones,” he said. Allocations cannot be decreased but they can be increased, according to Hulett. Board Chair Carla Jordan motioned for approval, with a second from Dexter Smith.

— Banking services for the Knox County School System will be bid. During Tuesday’s meeting Hulett explained this was an annual procedure.

“(We need) to begin the process (because) it takes quite a while,” Hulett said.

Dexter Smith motioned to allow for bidding, and it was seconded by Board Member Charles Merida. The board was unanimous in its decision.

— Also sent out for bids was insurance for the 2013-2014 year. This is workers compensation, property, fleet, general liability, educator’s legal liability and student accidents.

It was announced recently that the Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust (KSBIT), which oversaw a risk pool, low-cost insurance program to cover workman’s compensation, property and liability insurance and other services to its members, has accumulated a $28 million deficit.

Member school districts, including Knox County Schools, learned they will have to make up the difference. The KSBIT sent an unsigned memo to its members explaining the executive board decision to assess between $50 and $60 million to its member body to make up the deficit.

Hulett explained they will need to put “bid specs together, and put (an) insurance package together.”

“Everybody’s doing it to rectify the problem with KSBIT,” he added.

Jordan motioned to begin the process, with a second from Merida. The board was unanimous in its decision.

— The board also decided to negotiate for auditing services for Fiscal Year 2013. Hulett said White and Associates currently handle those services and recommended the board continue with the company. Jordan motioned to negotiate, with a second from Dexter Smith. The board voted unanimously in this decision.

— Air Source Technology was approved to advertise for bids for asbestos abatement in three of Knox County’s schools — G. R. Hampton, Dewitt and Jesse D. Lay elementary schools.  

Dexter Smith motioned to approve, with a second from Merida. The board was unanimous in its decision.