School News

WHITLEY COUNTY - Preliminary ACT scores from this past spring were presented to the Whitley County Board of Education during its meeting Thursday evening.

Whitley County Deputy Superintendent Paula Rickett explained that the scores were preliminary as during March, some juniors across the state were able to take the ACT. However, the makeup date for the test was scheduled for March 24. Whitley County had already moved to an NTI schedule as a result of the pandemic at that point. The state allowed schools to host a makeup date this fall on on Sept. 22 for those students who missed the original ACT testing date. However, the school district is still waiting on some of those test results to come back.

“I just want to make it clear that this is preliminary data, this data is not final for our district,” reemphasized Rickett before turning things over to Dr. Britney Faulkner, a guidance counselor with the high school.

Dr. Faulkner reported that the Whitley County school district had seen an increase in all areas of the ACT when it comes to composite scores.

“We saw an increase on our composite score of .7 from the previous year,” noted Faulkner. “And then all subject scores increased form the previous score as well.”

Whitley County saw a composite increase of one point on the English portion of the ACT, .4 points on the math portion, .4 on the reading portion, and .8 points on the science portion.

“In some areas these are the highest scores that we have seen probably over the last 10 or 11 years,” Faulkner said. “Some of the scores we’ve seen comparable scores in the past years, but in some areas they are the highest scores that we’ve ever had at Whitley County as a preliminary data report.”

Julie Osborne, the high-school’s principal, also shared the preliminary results of students reaching ACT benchmarks set by the Kentucky Department of Education.

Osborne said that in the 2018-19 school year, 39.7 percent of Whitley County’s juniors who took the spring ACT met the state’s benchmark in reading. This past year’s preliminary mark was 50.2 percent. 52.4 percent of Whitley’s juniors met the English benchmark in ’18-’19, while 60.8 percent did last year. The math benchmark was met by 39.5 percent of junior in ’18-’19. 44.6 percent of the juniors who took the ACT met the benchmark this past spring.

“I’m very proud to be a part of Whitley County with seeing all of the improvements and all of the good things going on in our district,” said Rickett. “I commend the high school and their staff out there for everything that they’ve done to get these kind of preliminary results.”

The board was also informed of two grants secured by Patrick Bowlin, the Director of Pupil Personnel for the school district, that will help strengthen the district’s school safety. Bowling was able to secure $356,000 through a COPS grant that will be used for safety improvements like surveillance camera upgrades, key locks, and swipe cards. He also informed the board that the district had received an $111,084 allotment from the state legislature that will be used for safety improvements as well.

Bowlin said the allotment will be used to cover windows throughout the district with perforated vinyl, upgrading some of the locks at the middle school and high school, and increasing the security to the entrance of the middle school.

“That’ll be adding the electronic keycard system to those doors and also adding some strength to those exterior doors,” noted Bowlin.

The school board approved the audited finance report and balance sheet for the year ending June 30, 2020 from Marr, Miller, and Myers that was presented Thursday evening. According to the report, the school district’s general fund ended the year with an increase of $475,925. The general fund revenues for the year were $700,688 more than budgeted. The general fund budgeted expenditures for the year were $3,727,469 less than budgeted.

The total debt of the district decreased $933,039, even though the district issued $890,000 in additional bonds that were used to replace the heating and air system at the middle school. This issue will be fully paid by the Kentucky School Facility Construction Commission with no cost at all to the school district.

As a result, Marr, Miller, and Myers reported that the school district’s general fund balance at the beginning of this current school year is the best it has been in 17 years.

With the healthy status of the district’s general fund in mind, the board approved the purchase of new school buses for Whitley County. Siler explained that the district was aiming to get five new buses, but that thanks to a civil-suit against Volkswagen, the district could only front the cost for 2.5 buses.

“Several years ago Volkswagen was in a civil-suit and each state was awarded some money,” Siler explained. “The Volkswagen money that we have applied for, if we are approved, would pay for half of each of these five buses. So our schools would receive these five buses, but would only be paying for two and half.”

The board also approved for a small maintenance project to help fix the roof of the middle school’s science wing. Siler said the roof had been causing some problems over the last couple of years and that the district wanted to address the problem before it became worse.

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