• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Board moves to install canopies at Southside

The Woodford County Board of Education unanimously approved documents on Monday seeking state approval to move forward with the installation of canopies over the student pickup area/bus circle at Southside Elementary School. District architect Margie Jacobs provided the board with cost estimates prior to its action to move forward on the walkway canopies at Southside Elementary. The cost savings to do walkway-cover projects at Southside and Woodford County High School - under one contract - would have resulted in a total savings of about 16 percent, according to Jacobs. She estimated the construction cost for doing canopies (with a coverage area for three bus lengths) at both schools at $203,540, and $121,253 for one school. A motion to move forward on both school canopy projects failed 2 to 3, with board members Karen Brock, Debby Edelen and Sherri Springate voting no. WCHS will be repurposed for other uses after the construction of a new high school (the district's top priority on its facility plan). A second motion by Margie Cleveland to seek state approval in order to move forward on the Southside project passed 5 to 0. Extending the canopies' coverage area from three buses to four buses would increase the project's total cost - from $139,483.44 to around $180,000 including a contingency and other soft costs, according to Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith. Earlier, Jacobs talked about a pending maintenance project to replace door hardware (knobs to levers) at Northside and Southside elementary schools to meet ADA requirements. Those schools, which currently have plastic levers on doors, were built before current ADA requirements mandating door hardware with levers, Jacobs said. In a related matter, Northside and Southside also do not have first aid areas with restrooms that are accessible by wheelchair. Those first aid rooms met ADA requirements when the schools were built in 1992. To enlarge the first aid rooms at the schools to meet current ADA requirements, other office spaces in those buildings would be displaced, Jacobs said. No pending project to enlarge the first aid rooms at Northside and Southside is being considered by the school board. At its regular meeting next Monday at Safe Harbor Academy, the school board will be asked to approve an owner-architect agreement to move forward on projects to upgrade the door hardware at Northside and Southside, install walkway covers at Southside, install a new vehicle lift in the bus garage and replace the bleachers in the gym at Simmons Elementary. Available dollars in the district's capital outlay fund will cover the costs of those pending maintenance projects, which have not received final approval from the Board of Education. Counselor staffing The board unanimously approved an amendment to school staffing procedures that will allocate an additional counseling/social worker position to elementary schools with 500 or more students next school year. Southside was the only elementary school in the district with more than 500 students last school year. The amended staffing procedures also creates a district-wide counseling/social worker position, who will split time between the middle and high schools - based on needs - next school year, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins said. In May, Springate voiced support for putting additional support systems, counselors and social workers in place to help students and also reduce behavioral issues in schools. Drug testing Board members agreed to begin discussions on developing a drug testing policy for students in Woodford County schools at the request of Cleveland. "I'd like to move quickly on this," she said. Hawkins said the process can begin by examining sample drug testing policies being used by other school districts. "I think it would be good to look at maybe some different types of options, different types of wording," he said. "And then I think at that point we would have to work with our board (legal) counsel to determine and make sure that we do it the right way ... get it right on the front end." Springate agreed that there are a lot of different options on how drug testing can be conducted: extracurricular, athletic, mandatory and random. "So it'd be nice to have options," she said. Financial report The district began May with a total cash balance of $12.879 million and ended the month with $12.135 million, according to Smith's financial report. The general fund ended May with $10.063 million, which includes $1.398 million in revenues and $2.212 million in expenditures. Also, a bond payment of $74,450 came out of the district's debt service fund last month.

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