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Divided school board ties up budget approval

By Janie Slaven, McCreary County Record, Whitley City, Ky.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

May 29--STEARNS -- Two weeks ago the McCreary County Board of Education heard a proposal for a $23 million 2014-15 budget which was balanced without cutting at least $1 million for the first time in two years.

Topping Thursday night's agenda was a tentative budget draft based on that proposal. But with board chair Nelda Gilreath missing the regular meeting, the remaining board members split the vote evenly.

The aye votes came from vice-chair Roxanne Shook, who made the motion, and Larry Davis, who seconded it. Dissenting were Debbie Gibson and Brandon Kidd.

"I'm torn," Gibson said. "We didn't have any input or say so. It's too late to make changes."

Last meeting Gibson and Kidd questioned the need for a $53,000 part-time instructional supervisor position when two teachers were cut due to dropping enrollment at Pine Knot Primary and Whitley City Elementary as well as eight bus drivers due to rising transportation costs.

Last year, the board had received a budget proposal in April but District Accounting Manager Kristi Sizemore had noted that this year's proposal was delayed because the General Assembly did not approve a state budget until April 15.

Thursday's tie required the scheduling of a special-called meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) at Central Office. A tentative budget must be spent to the Kentucky Department of Education for approval by May 30. A working budget must be completed by September 30.

[UPDATE: With Chairperson Gilreath in attendance, the tentative budget was approved by a 3-2 vote on May 28.]

Board members did approve the 2014-15 salary schedule, which includes a state-mandated one-percent raise for personnel.

In other business, the board recognized McCreary Central High School's five Governor's Scholars and the HOSA students who would be traveling to national competition in Florida. The board also approved bids to Modern Vending for snack vending and Empire Gas Company for propane. Members also renewed the district's student insurance packet with Roberts' Nationwide, as represented by agent Buddy Wilson.

Wilson, owner of Crabtree-Wilson Insurance Agency, updated the board regarding his efforts to obtain Property/ Liability and Worker's Compensation quotes. Current provider WRM bid to renew at a $186,956 premium -- an increase of just $1,400 with Wilson explaining that the rate remains the same as last year's but building values increased by $1.6 million per KDE guidelines. AIG quoted $11,000 higher while Liberty Mutual was $85,000 higher.

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The best workers comp quote came from current provider Kentucky Employers' Mutual Insurance (KEMI) at $37,000 less than last year due to a rate decrease. With both payroll and losses down, Wilson noted the district would also be due a refund on part of this year's premium.

The board opted not to vote on insurance yet, as additional quotes may come in before the next meeting.

Prior to adjourning the regular meeting, Gibson asked to revisit the approval of the Superintendent's Report on Personnel. The report had been approved without discussion as part of Actions by Consent but Gibson wanted to question two terminations.

The terminations involved a program assistant and custodian, both classified positions. Gibson stated that both staffers were under medical orders, at which board attorney Winter Huff advised the board not to discuss personnel issues. Huff advised that the employees in question should talk with either Superintendent Arthur D. Wright or herself.

The board next meets in special-called session tonight at 6 p.m. with the regular meeting scheduled for June 26.

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(c)2014 the McCreary County Record (Whitley City, Ky.)

Visit the McCreary County Record (Whitley City, Ky.) at mccrearyrecord.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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