By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
“Inspiring Leaders and Changing Futures… One Child at a Time” — that’s the new vision statement for Knox County Schools.
The resolution to change the school system’s vision and mission statements was unanimously approved during the regular meeting of the Knox County Board of Education Tuesday.
Public Relations Director Frank Shelton explained a committee that included Board member Charles Merida and Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles was formed to gather information and input to determine the new statements and how they should reflect the school system.
Sprinkles added that members of the community also participated on this committee.
“That’s what a committee should look like,” Sprinkles said.
The “primary responsibility” for these statements is “to establish the direction of the school district,” Shelton said.
While no official vote was taken by board of education members, all members signed the resolution during Tuesday’s open meeting.
In board of education business:
— Knox Central High School Principal Tim Melton updated board members on the school’s turnaround progress report. He explained to board members several things have been put into place to change the environment of the school after a 2011-2012 audit revealed issues in the learning environment.
Professional Learning Communities are being used and new methods of student tracking are being put into place, Melton said, and more classroom advocates are on hand “to reach all the students and parents of students” and tell them what’s going on at KCHS.
Melton also told board members that a leadership team is working on several things, including 30-day monthly plans for educators. There’s also an advisory council, which is in place to create policies to cover issues for many years to come. There is also a diagnostic team, and that team does assessments, which Melton said is due Friday.
Sprinkles followed Melton’s presentation with a similar presentation, discussing the state’s Unbridled Learning education bill. The superintendent explained that with the Senate 1 bill in Kentucky, better known as Unbridled Learning, there is an increased concentration on language arts and math skills for students.
He explained school systems statewide receive a ranking based on their college and career ready practices and results — and that the 2011-2012 year saw the ranking at 46.1 on a 100-point scale.
Improvements have been made, however, and Sprinkles told board members the 2012-2013 ranking is right at 50.
Most of the county’s schools fall into the “needs improvement/progressing” category, which Sprinkles says leads the school system to want to continue to grow.
“We know it’s an achievable goal,” he said. “Most areas are experiencing growth.”
But more work is in store.
“Are we where we need to be? — absolutely not,” Sprinkles said. “Do we have a plan (to get there)? — absolutely.”
— Board members unanimously voted to accept the bakery and the dairy product contracts/bids for foods served by the school system’s cateferias.
The Kentucky Department of Education oversees that part of the bidding process — so board members agreed to go ahead with approval.
However, Board member Dexter Smith questioned whether these items could be provided locally. Board members agreed to review for the next year to see if that was a cheaper method of ordering baked goods and dairy products. Board vice-chair Sam Watts motioned to approve the bakery bid, with a second from Merida.
Merida then made the motion to accept the dairy bid, with a second from Watts.
— Bids will now be sought by the school system to handle chemical and lawn care services for the athletic fields.
Sprinkles said that this bidding process was “out of line” with normal bidding, but that whoever wins that contract will be able to work on the fields through the summer growing months.
Merida motioned to advertise for bids, with a second from Watts. The board was unanimous with this decision.
— Getting an application processed with the Knox County School System just got a little bit easier Tuesday.
That’s because board members unanimously approved the school use TalentEd Perform K-12 teacher evaluation software.
Sprinkles explained staff members were able to review the system by looking at how other school districts use the program.
The superintendent added the TalentEd Perform software will take applications online, and track them.
No longer will applications be handed over to the school’s principal.
“This allows principals to manage the interview process,” Sprinkles said. “And eliminate potential problems — it eliminates paperwork and streamlines the process.”
Chief Financial Officer Gertrude Smith told board members that the contract lasts for one year, and has an annual optional renewal opportunity.
The cost for the first year is approximately $4,000 — this includes set-up of the system and system training.
After that, if the contract is renewed, the school system would pay approximately $3,500 annually.
Watts motioned to approve the software, with a second from Dexter Smith.
— The first reading of the school system’s amended Field Trip policy was approved Tuesday. Sprinkles explained that the policy had a stipulation that field trips must include a visit to a college campus.
Except that time constraints and other issues often forced bare-boned following of those stipulations, such as driving by a campus or lunching on the college property.
“It’s very important to get (students) on college campuses,” Sprinkles said. “But (in) a more intentional way.”
This amended policy will drop that stipulation, but allow for plans to be developed for students to have alternating years visiting college or university campuses and visiting technical or vocational schools.
Dexter Smith motioned to accept the first reading, with a second from Watts.
— Two roofing contractor pay applications were turned down Tuesday — one concerning the roof replacement at Dewitt Elementary, the other concerning roof replacement at Flat Lick Elementary.
And this is the second time board members voted to table these two issues.
During September’s board meeting, Merida explained that difficulty getting in touch with some of the key players in the roof replacements was the biggest reason for the delay for payment.
The Dewitt pay application was denied in the first vote related to this. Merida also motioned not to make the payment for the Flat Lick contractor. Board attorney Ashlee Valentine recommended the board hold the payment until the next board meeting. The board was unanimous with both these decisions.
All that was in September.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Merida again noted difficulty in getting the people involved to get together on a meeting.
“I don’t know what the problem is,” he said, and he motioned to table the payment for Dewitt’s repair work. That motion was seconded by Dexter Smith.
Further along in the meeting, the vote to pay for the Flat Lick repair work came up. Merida motioned to table this payment, with a second from Dexter Smith.
“Evidently they don’t need much money,” Watts said.
— Board members passed a motion to give the school system’s cooks in the food service department a raise of $1 per hour.
Sprinkles explained that the food service budget has enough money to cover the raises, so no monies will come from the general fund.
Dexter Smith motioned to approve the raise, with a second from Board Chair Merrill Smith. The board voted 3-1 for the raise, with a nay vote from Merida.
— Board members unanimously agreed to pay $1,000 toward a statewide study “to find the information (about funding) that we already know exists,” Sprinkles said.
“Education in Kentucky is severely underfunded,” Sprinkles continued, adding that the hard data results of this study would be presented to the state’s General Assembly — proving the need for increased funding.
Sprinkles said the school system’s cost is 25 cents per ADA — which is approximately $1,000 for the school system.
“We’ve been asked to do more with less money,” the superintendent said, adding that several educational groups are behind the study.
Dexter Smith motioned to approve assisting to fund the study, with a second from Watts.
— Knox County Middle School has a new principal. During Tuesday’s meeting it was announced that Jeremy Ledford now holds the principal’s position at KCMS.
— Five schools in the Knox County Public School system received checks from Food City Tuesday. Those schools receiving checks are participants in the Food City School Bucks Education Program. Food City shoppers using a store discount card can go online and register their card to build “bucks” for their school of choice. Just over $1,857 was donated to the school. Knox Central High School received $1,206.22; Jesse D. Lay Elementary received $104.55; Flat Lick Elementary received $268.59; GR Hampton Elementary received $161.32; and Central Elementary School received $116.99.
— Board members closed the open meeting to enter into a closed, executive session. Once the session was over and the meeting reconvened, Valentine announced that no decisions were made during the session.
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
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