The Feb. 16 school board meeting began with board chairman Ronnie Chelf clarifying the reasoning for his vote opposing the extension of Superintendent Sam Sanders’ contract at last month’s meeting.
Chelf said he received several phone calls asking why he chose to vote the way he did, and that people questioned if there was a problem between him and Sanders.
He said they have a “great relationship” and work well together, and that his decision to vote the way he did was strictly business-related – he just “didn’t feel at this time it was necessary to extend the contract.”
Board member Norbert Skees brought up that during his campaign several people in his district, which includes Lyons Station, were concerned about the amount of time their children ride the school bus. It was also noted that students in areas much closer to schools than Lyons Station also ride the school bus in excess of one hour.
Skees said he would like to see a detailed report from the transportation department outlining any ways to lessen the amount of time students spend away from home.
“I don’t know if there’s a way to do it, but we need to try,” Skees said. “The people who live further away deserve the same as people who live closer to the school.”
Superintendent Sanders said several years ago a group from the Siberia section requested a study be done on the time spent on the school bus, but the study showed it would not be economically feasible to change the way things were done, since reducing time would require adding several buses.
According to Kentucky Department of Education studies, the target time for high school and middle school students is 60 minutes or less on the bus and 45 minutes for elementary school students. Sanders said the district buses run “about as efficiently as we can,” but the board “would be glad to look into different options.
Sanders also mentioned he and Phil Fulkerson have looked into purchasing software that would evaluate the bus routes to make sure they are as efficient as possible.
Skees also questioned what is being done to teach students practical skills, such as balancing checkbooks, and learning about credit scores, buying a car and learning about insurance.
Amanda Reed said it is part of the core content required by the state to be taught to students throughout various grade levels. She said students who focus their studies in agriculture, for example, might be exposed more deeply to areas of finance within the agriculture field, but that all students do receive the content in the classroom.
Kristi Wright, guidance counselor at LaRue County High School, said various activities and workshops are held within the high school to help students understand these types of skills.
Skees also asked whether anyone had followed up on the news article he presented last month regarding booster clubs being fined by the IRS.
Finance manager Kay Bryant said the information concerned groups running a bingo hall and paying individuals to work, and you have to rely on volunteers as you can’t pay people to work at a charitable function.
Before adopting the agenda, Skees asked why certain items are put on the consent agenda and the action agenda. Sanders said the consent agenda was incorporated many years ago as a way to streamline meetings and includes things that normally happen every month and do not normally require “a lot of attention.”
The board also approved the consent agenda with items including the treasurer’s report, minutes from previous meetings, renewing the Success Corps Grant and fundraising requests. Skees noted there was a mistake on the minutes from the special-called meeting Feb. 9 – that Denny Duggins was included in the board members and that would need to be changed.
One item on the consent agenda was to approve the update of board policy 09.36 regarding school-related trips. It states students are not to ride in any personal vehicle to and from school-sponsored trips, but the update, per the recommendation of the KDE, would allow students to ride to and from such events with their parent or guardian only as an alternate to district transportation.
Sanders said one recent example of the need for this change is an upcoming baseball team trip to Florida where all the players’ parents are driving separately, except for one. He said the students could ride with their own parent or guardian, while the one student whose parent or guardian isn’t going can ride in an approved district vehicle with the coach.
Skees said the recommendation needed to include an amendment stating if the students are not riding with a parent or guardian then a board vehicle will be provided.
Board member Price Smith asked at what price he was willing to provide the transportation, as teams are required to pay for transportation and have a budget for such trips.
Skees said if the money is not available for the students to pay for the transportation then “they don’t go.”
Skees asked about the possibility of obtaining signed forms from parents permitting students to ride with other parents. Sanders said he recommended adopting the policy as presented, and if there is an interest in changing it, the KDE handles those updates during the summer.
The recommendation with the amendment was voted down 3-2, with Skees and Greenwell voting for the amended recommendation. The motion passed 4-1 without the amendment, with Skees voting no.