By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
A decision was reached Tuesday concerning providing health care in Knox County Schools.
During a special-called meeting of the Knox County Board of Education, board members approved entering into an agreement with Family Health Care Associates in a 4-1 vote.
During a board of education meeting in February, board members voted to table a potential agreement providing health care for the schools. Two companies expressed interest in garnering and maintaining that responsibility — Family Health Care Associates and Grace Community Health Center.
Board member Gordon Hinkle expressed vocal support for Grace Community Health Center during the February meeting — and continued that support Tuesday night.
In February, one person from one of the companies was in house, but as the subject was tabled, she was not provided an opportunity to speak.
Board chairman Merrill Smith invited her to attend Tuesday’s meeting, but no one spoke on behalf of either company.
Hinkle said Tuesday that while he was “not siding with one or the other,” he knew that Grace Community Health Care Center was already in a similar contract with Clay County Schools “with zero problems.”
“My perspective is that goes a long way,” he said.
Merrill Smith said he “like(s) the option of having a nurse in every school full-time.”
Hinkle added that health care provided through the schools through Grace Community could be billed on a “sliding discount rate” to assist underprivileged families. “The other one doesn’t” he said.
Board member Dexter Smith motioned to approve Family Health Care Associates, with a second from Board member Charles Merida. Dexter Smith, Merrill Smith, Merida and Board Vice-chairman Sam Watts all voted to approve the motion, although Watts paused for a period before he cast his voice vote.
Hinkle cast the lone nay vote.
In other board business:
— A leaking issue in G.R. Hampton Elementary School led board members to discuss the final “pay application,” or invoice, for the renovation work performed there. School Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles explained there was a leak in one of the bathrooms. “It’s already leaking into the lower area,” he said.
That “lower area” is the school’s cafeteria.
David Samokar, president of Clotfelter-Samofar Architects, was on hand Tuesday night to explain the plan on correcting the leak problem to board members.
He said the contractor was going to be on-site today looking at the problem and the waterproof membrane which was to be applied. He asked board members to approve the pay application, but to hold the check until the work was complete to both the architect company’s and board members’ satisfaction.
“My problem is (we) don’t want to come in and do a ‘quick fix,” Watts said. “We want to make sure it’s permanent.”
The cause of the leak is unclear, Samokar said, adding that they won’t know the exact cause “until we can investigate.”
All renovation work has a one-year guarantee.
Hinkle motioned to approve the $169,584.20 payment, but hold actually sending it until a “flood test” is done to ensure the leak is repaired. Watts seconded that motion, and all board members voted unanimously in this decision.
— The final pay application for window replacement at Dewitt Elementary School was approved. Merida said that minor issues with the repair and renovation work had been “rectified,” and he made the motion to pay the $5,253.20 invoice. Dexter Smith seconded the motion, and a voice vote showed board members unanimous with this decision.
— When the issue came up to pay the contractor for the Dewitt Elementary roof replacement project, Merida expressed his reasons to again table the issue — it had been tabled during the February meeting. Merida motioned to table paying the $4,995 invoice, with a second from Dexter Smith. A voice vote showed this decision to be unanimous with board members.
— A decision to pay the contractor for renovation and repair work at Flat Lick Elementary School was “halfway” approved. Merida explained that “this is the same contractor we’re having problems with at Dewitt.”
He added that they were currently in negotiations with that contractor, and then motioned to pay $71,890.58 of the $143,781.17 invoice, holding that remainder until the project is satisfactorily completed. Dexter Smith seconded that motion, and a voice vote showed board members to be unanimous.
— Board members unanimously agreed to hire Larry Rice as an insurance consultant for the board.
Sprinkles explained the school system was in the process of preparing to bid and then purchase insurance — and with the “complexity (of) the insurance industry,” Sprinkles felt a consultant would be helpful.
“(They) can guide us through this process to buy the coverage best suited for (the school system’s needs,” Sprinkles said. “(The consultant) could referee the discussion — he provides us with a neutral source (of information).”
Rice, as per state statute, does not work nor is employed by any insurance firm. “I read insurance policies,” he told board members.
This would be for insurance for the 2014-2015 school year. Dexter Smith motioned to go into contract with Rice, with a second from Merrill Smith.
— All bids for banking services for the school system were unanimously rejected by recommendation Tuesday.
Sprinkles explained that there was some confusion concerning the bid package, and the best course of action would be to start over and re-bid the school’s banking services. Merrill Smith motioned to reject those bids and start again, with a second from Merida.
— Educational Enhancement Opportunity requests were tabled Tuesday. Sprinkles said he wanted the applications reviewed by the approving principals to ensure these requests fall into the guidelines for “educational enhancement.”
Merida motioned to table the vote, with a second from Merrill Smith.
Board members were unanimous with this decision.
— A vote to amend the current school year calendar was tabled — after a state decision concerning waivers for some school systems that missed school for weather-related problems was shot down.
Knox County school students have 26 snow/weather days to make up, according to Sprinkles —approximately 40 school districts have missed more than 20 days, and some of those more than 30.
He said that students are required to have 1,062 instructional hours during a standard school year. Already the school had combated the situation with the decision to extend the school day for 30 minutes.
Merrill Smith motioned to table the vote, with a second from Dexter Smith.
— The baseball field at Knox Central High School now has a name — thanks to some prodding from baseball coach Brandon Hillard.
According to Sprinkles, Hillard approached the administration making the request to name the baseball field. “He was very persistent and adamant,” Sprinkles said. “He’s asking the board to make it official.”
In honor of the military veteran men and women, the KCHS baseball field will now be known as Veterans’ Field — Hinkle motioned to approve the new name, with a second from Merida. Board members unanimously approve the decision.
— A third institution has now entered an agreement with the Knox County School System to assist high school students get a jump start on their college careers while still attending high school.
Eastern Kentucky University will now allow students taking certain classes to put those classes toward college credits at that school.
Union College, Southeast Community College and now EKU offer course credits for college through Knox County’s high schools.
Dexter Smith motioned to approve this decision, with a second from Merrill Smith. Board members were unanimous with this decision.
— Board members unanimously agreed to advertise for bids to replace to gymnasium floor at Dewitt Elementary. Sprinkles explained that all the county’s elementary schools have modern wooden floors — but that the rubberized floor at Dewitt is cracking and needs replaced.
Dexter Smith motioned to go ahead and advertise for bids, with a second from Merida.
— Board members voted to go into an executive session at 8:03 p.m. At 8:46 they returned — board attorney Ashlee D. Smith told the audience that no official action was taken.
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
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