Board approves request for funding on projects
The Woodford County Board of Education unanimously approved a capital funds request on Monday seeking state approval to use restricted dollars on three facility projects. The school board also approved project applications seeking state approval to replace the bus lift at its transportation department garage, replace the bleachers in the gym at Simmons Elementary, and upgrade door hardware at Northside and Southside elementary schools in order to comply with ADA requirements. After getting state approval, the board can choose not to move forward on any or all of those projects. One factor in not moving forward could become higher-than-anticipated bids on those projects. The board tabled action on approving a project application to install canopies above walkways at Southside and Woodford County High School until its meeting in June. With changes to next school year's bus routes that should reduce the length of time students are waiting to get picked up in the afternoon, the need for additional walkway coverings at WCHS was questioned by board members. The board will likely receive three canopy options next month. One would include the installation of canopies at both Southside and WCHS, a second option would include only Southside and a third option would include only WCHS. Salaries, budget The board unanimously approved a salary schedule for next school year that will give all employees a 1.5 percent raise. A 2017-18 tentative budget was also approved and includes the across-the-board raise. Unanticipated property tax revenue ($450,000) and savings from not needing to buy a fourth school bus ($100,000) would provide the necessary funds to cover the cost of the raise (about $250,000), but no decision was made by the board to spend those dollars on the pay increase. The district has sufficient dollars in its contingency fund to cover the cost of the increased salaries for all employees. The board could also choose to use the cost-savings that resulted from not having to buy a fourth school bus to pay for a new lift at the bus garage (as recommended by schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins) instead of using capital funds for that project. Other approvals The board approved a revised 2017-18 school calendar that correctly identifies primary election day as May 22 and not May 15, which will become a regular school day for students. The last day of school for students in 2017-18 will be May 21 if the school year is not extended by snow makeup days. The board also approved adjustments to next year's school day to move the end time for elementary schools to 2:40 p.m. and the start time for the middle and high schools to 8:15 a.m., with the end time being moved to 3:15 p.m. at both locations. Safe Harbor Academy will start the school day at 8:15 a.m. and end its day at 3 p.m. under the time changes being implemented next school year. Adjusting school start/end times will allow the district to restructure afternoon bus routes and shorten bus runs, according to Hawkins.