TIMES TRIBUNE (CORBIN, Ky.)
By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
The Corbin Independent Schools want to race to the top again. This time, they’ll join eight other school districts to come together in the coveted federal grant competition.
“The grant application is in,” said the district’s director of pupil personnel and grants, Mark Daniels, during the Corbin Board of Education’s regular meeting Thursday night.
The district applied for the grant as part of a group called “The Southeastern Kentucky Race to the Top Consortium.” Nine school districts make up the consortium — Corbin Independent, Whitley County, Williamsburg Independent, Knox County, Barbourville Independent, McCreary County, Bell County, Pineville Independent and Clay County.
If they get the grant, the nine districts will receive $30 million a year for four years — a total of $120 million over the four-year period.
Corbin schools applied for the grant last year, with Williamsburg, Whitley County and McCreary County under the same consortium name, but lost out to a Kentucky group of 22 school districts in the southern and central part of the state.
The “Race To The Top” program provides personalized learning, comprehensive systems of learning support, world-class knowledge and skills, performance-based learning, a student voice/agency and anytime, anywhere learning. Officials with the program say it would provide six attributes of next generation learning, which would help prepare students to be ready for college.
A decision is expected to be made from Washington in December by the U.S. Department of Education, who administers the grants.
The session began with good news about a clinical grant between the school district and Eastern Kentucky University. The $500,000 grant is for three years, and funds a program set up between EKU and Corbin Independent.
Corbin Middle School is being used for the program, with Principal Jennifer Parsons, Assistant Principal Penny Hammons and former Corbin Elementary Principal Sharon Ball as the program staff.
Board members were introduced to the Pre-Service EKU teachers involved in the program, including Whitney Allen, Kira Cornett, Monica Decker, Kathy Howard, Loni Payne, Tommy Radford, Vincent Rotondi, Dennita Taylor and Kayla Wagers.
Ball told the meeting officials with the grant program said it’s a new way to train teachers, and has been enriched by the district’s quality of education through the years.
“One of the reasons Eastern got the grant was because of the Corbin Independent Schools,” she said.
Two actions involving the purchase of the Saint Camillus Academy property on Roy Kidd Avenue were given the green light at the meeting.
The board approved action with each Corbin School Board member that no conflict of interest exists with the owner of the St. Camillus property, the Sisters of Divine Providence, nor is there a conflict of interest with any vendor or subcontractor involved in the Corbin School’s purchasing the property.
In a separate action, they approved a separate BG-1 (Buildings and Grounds) document to purchase the St. Camillus property, estimated at approximately 26 acres. That action is pending approval from the Kentucky Department of Education.
The Corbin School Board announced plans to purchase Saint Camillus last month from the Sisters for $1 million. The Sisters of Divine Providence will finance the interest-free purchase, which will be paid in $200,000 annual payments over a five-year period.
The second reading of board policies involving the use of tobacco by certified and classified personnel, bus driver’s use of tobacco and other substances, were also given approval. The anti-tobacco policies now become effective.
Board members also reviewed and approved a draft copy of the 2012-13 audit report from Cloyd and Associates, as well as approved and signed a resolution to support public education in Kentucky.
In the resolution, the board implored the Kentucky State Legislature to take action to fully fund the mandates of the state’s Unbridled Learning initiative, to insure that the state’s public education system can offer students “a path to college and career readiness.”
The resolution mentioned “the mandates of Unbridled Learning continue to increase, placing additional demands on teachers, administrators and school boards working diligently to ensure that students continue on their path to becoming college and career ready.”
It went on to say, “the Kentucky Legislature has broken their pledge to Kentucky’s students, failing to fund the mandates of Unbridled Learning; and Whereas, the failure of the legislature to provide adequate funding has caused the Corbin Independent Board of Education to make significant budget cuts in striving to maintain a financially sound school district, reductions including personnel and instructional program services and an increase in local property taxes.”
In other actions, McNeel commented that several lighting controls have been corrected at Corbin Primary School, but that the school was still having problems in the Media Center. “It’s been five years. We may ask for litigation, but significant improvement has come, and I’ll hold off until the November meeting.”
He also said the district was down 18 students over last year, with the declines in Kindergarten. On the other hand, attendance was up over the last two months, coming in at a growth of 3.7 percent.
A presentation on the Teacher Professional Growth Effectiveness System, and the Principal Professional Growth Effectiveness System in the district was given by Assistant Superintendent Ramona Davis and Administrative Assistant Dave Cox.
The recent test results for 2012-13 were also discussed.
During the testing, the Corbin Independent district overall index increased .3 points, with the district’s index 10 points above the state average. The Percentile Rank of the Corbin Schools as a district increased from 97 percent to 98 percent, giving the district a Distinguished classification, and a state rank of number six among K-12 districts.
Among the district’s schools, both Corbin Middle and Corbin Intermediate experienced the most growth.