School board approves $53.742 million budget
The Woodford County Board of Education unanimously approved a $53.742 million budget for the current school year on Monday night. In addition to a general fund of $39.9 million, the 2016-17 working budget's funding sources include $3.6 million from special revenue (restricted state and federal grants), $2.94 million in a building fund, $2.7 million for debt service and $2.269 million for food service. The general fund allocates 52 percent of its $39.9 million on school-based and instructional services, while 8 percent gets spent on facilities, 6.4 percent covers student transportation costs, and 7.3 percent pays for district support services and student technology. The working budget includes an expenditure of $425,000 for purchasing four new school buses and a contingency fund of 12 percent or $5.1 million. Job duties The school board approved the restructuring of job responsibilities for Director of Staff/Student Services Garet Wells. One of his additional job responsibilities is beginning the process to develop a plan for how the school district will manage potential student enrollment growth. Wells will also explore options for the school district in terms of providing students with additional mental health services to help them with issues "we haven't had to deal with before," said schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins at last week's board planning meeting. Electronic sign The school board approved the purchase of a new electronic sign at Woodford County High School. The site-based council at WCHS set aside dollars from its school-allocated funds from a year ago to pay for a new electronic sign being built and installed by Ruggles Sign Company at a cost of $26,604. The current WCHS sign requires someone - typically students - to change messages manually, which could potentially put them in an unsafe situation because of the sign's location between the school entrance and exit lanes. An electronic sign will also enhance communication. In a related matter, the board supported a recommendation by Hawkins to use available dollars in the district's building maintenance fund to purchase new signs for Northside and Southside elementary schools. Northside and Southside still have the original signs from when those schools were constructed 25 years ago. The PTO at Southside recently raised money to purchase a new sign for the school, which will not be electronic. Hawkins said new signs should have been installed during the recent renovation projects at the schools involving new HVAC systems. To right this oversight, he said the district will reimburse Southside's PTO for the cost of a new sign and provide a like amount of dollars for a new sign at Northside. The district will not provide funds to purchase electronic signs, and Hawkins noted that a new sign was installed at WCHS during its most recent renovation. Student representative School board members agreed to proceed with creating a policy that would allow a student from Woodford County High School to provide input to the Board of Education as a nonvoting member. The student-elected board representative must be a junior or senior with a grade-point average of at least 2.5 and no unexcused absences or suspensions. Also, the board agreed that a student-representative could not miss more than two meetings during his or her one-year term. The board agreed to have its two readings on the proposed policy in October. If approved, a student-representative would begin serving on the board in January. WCHS sophomore Matti Springate, who serves on the Prichard Committee's Student Voice Team, asked board members to consider allowing a student-representative on the school board in August. As a non-voting member of the board, Matti said a student-rep would "provide input from the student body and a valuable perspective that should be reflected in school decision-making." Only 9 percent of Kentucky's school districts have a student-representative on their school boards. Boone County has had a student-representative on its school board for over 10 years, Matti told board members. Student assessment software The board unanimously approved the awarding of a bid for a new student assessment software program. The bid includes $5,000 to $10,000 for startup costs and training. The software program's annual cost of $28,000 was described as "about the same" as the most-recent software program used for collecting student assessment data. Coyle speaks Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle provided the school board with an update on county government. As Woodford County rebounds from this country's most recent economic downturn, Coyle said a boost in payroll tax revenue from hundreds of new manufacturing jobs coming into the community, as well as the economic impact of horse farms, wineries, bourbon industry and agri-businesses like Boyd Orchards, continue to support local prosperity. Additionally, Coyle and Hawkins agreed that the ongoing partnerships between the county and school district - most notably continuing to share athletic facilities for youth in the community - are beneficial to families in the community. "And your road crew is phenomenal," said Hawkins. "They make our life a lot easier in the wintertime." School employees who live outside of Woodford County notice a difference in the roadways on snowy mornings "as soon as they hit the county line," he added. Coyle's report to the Board of Education follows recent updates on the cities of Versailles and Midway given by mayors Brian Traugott of Versailles and Grayson Vandegrift of Midway.