• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Board okays draft budget for next school year

The Woodford County Board of Education unanimously approved a draft budget for the 2016-17 school year during its regular meeting on Monday night. Because there are so many unknowns related to state and local funding, Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith told board members that she has “planned conservatively” during her budget presentation at last Tuesday night’s planning meeting. Other approvals The board approved a debt assistance offer that will increase its bonding potential by about $1.4 million. The state will pay back the debt on behalf of the district, with those dollars available beginning July 1, 2016. The board also approved a resolution to again employ the Chenoweth Law Office as board attorney on an “as needed” basis. Under the agreement, the district will pay $135 per hour for legal services (an increase of $10 per hour) and 45 cents per mile for travel reimbursement. The first reading of a change in policy that will allow Smith to make payments – for employee travel reimbursements and vendors – each week was approved. The board will receive a report to review those weekly payments, but will no longer give prior approval before payments are made each month under the revised policy. Smith said board attorney Bob Chenoweth told her that the policy change made good business sense in order to expedite payments. “To his knowledge, no other district has made this specific board policy change,” she said, “but he does feel like it will lead a lot of” other districts to make this policy change. Snow response Schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins commended the school system’s maintenance and custodial staffs “for the outstanding work they did in getting our parking lots and sidewalks ready for students and staff to return today (Monday),” during his monthly remarks. He said the city and county road crews also did amazing work, which allowed schools to reopen on Monday morning following heavy snowfall throughout the day last Friday. Travel request The board approved a travel request so the Woodford County High School baseball team can travel to Fort Walton Beach, Fla., to play in a tournament during spring break. The trip will be paid for with dollars from fundraisers, with individuals paying the difference. Hawkins addressed a concern raised last week by board members about whether or not a teacher would accompany students on the trip. Under board policy, Hawkins said a full-time school employee does not have to accompany students on trips. However, he said he’s met with WCHS Principal Rob Akers about options to have a full-time employee in Florida to help chaperone the baseball players. “We have done some overnight trips before with paraprofessional coaches. This one is just a little bit longer so I understand the concern,” said Hawkins. The WCHS baseball team’s coaches are paraprofessionals and not employed by the district in any other capacity. Church recognized Woodford Community Christian Church was recognized for its many contributions to the school system during Monday’s meeting. “If it weren’t for organizations like yours,” said board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV, “a lot would go undone in our school system.” Among its many contributions, members of Woodford Community Christian Church make donations for the purchase school uniforms for students at Simmons Elementary and donate money to purchase school supplies, Wilson said. They also volunteer as mentors in the PAWS after-school program and sponsor 50 students who may not otherwise receive gifts at Christmastime, he said. Additionally, Wilson said church members and staff provided much needed support at Simmons Elementary in the aftermath of the tragic death of Logan Tipton, one of the school’s students. “On the day of that horrific tragedy,” Hawkins said, Woodford Community Christian Church senior minister Randy Nation was at Simmons checking in on its students and teachers. “That’s just one example of how they reach out to our school community and how they are there thinking of those who may not otherwise be thought of. So we certainly appreciate all that you do for our school district,” Hawkins said. Nation and youth minister Raf Gonzalez accepted a framed certificate from board member Karen Brock recognizing Woodford Community Christian Church for its exceptional service to the school system. Board honored A School Board Recognition Month proclamation read by Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott thanked board members Karen Brock, Margie Cleveland, Debby Edelen (vice chair), Sherri Springate and Wilson IV for their service “in promoting student achievement by creating a vision, establishing policies and budgets, and setting clear standards of accountability for all involved” in the education of students in Woodford County schools. “When we go out and try to attract business – real high-paying jobs … the importance of our school system – it’s at the top of their list,” said Traugott. “…(Our school system) really reflects the values of this community.” School board members also received cards from students thanking them for their service. And a copy of Wonder, a children’s novel written by R. J. Palacio, was donated to every elementary school library as well as the Midway branch and Woodford County public libraries in honor of School Board Recognition Month. This tradition began three years ago, Hawkins said.

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