School board’s ‘blackout’ in support of teachers
Members of the Woodford County Board of Education dressed in black to demonstrate their support for teachers in the school district at their meetingMonday.
They, like teachers in Woodford County schools, wore black “to blackout the comments of our governor last Friday – the abhorrent comments of our governor last Friday…,” said board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV.
Asked about teachers leaving the classroom last Friday so they could rally for public education at the state Capitol, Gov. Matt Bevin said, “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.” He later apologized, which also garnered criticism from teachers and Democratic lawmakers.
“We wholeheartedly support our teachers and staff, and we’re very proud of their peaceful demonstrations,” said board member Sherri Springate. “They’re really just taking the power away from all of that negativity and turning it around.”
Schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins said this “simple, but yet powerful” symbol of unity among our teachers “speaks volumes about how they have handled themselves through this entire legislative process and how they continue to advocate for what’s best for public education.”
The district began the month of March with a total cash balance of $15.727 million and ended March with $14.657 million, according to Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith’s financial report.
District activity funds included a balance of $76,833.02 for its one-to-one computer tablet insurance fund. Because that fund balance has remained steady, the board will be asked to approve a fee schedule for the one-to-one program with no changes next Monday, said Hawkins.
Director of Technology Bob Gibson said hundreds of devices will need repairs when they’re collected from students at the end of the school year, so the insurance balance will go down with those repairs. The district only had about $30,000 to $35,000 in carry-forward funds going into this school year after paying for year-end repairs, he added.
The district will purchase approximately 350 Chromebooks (or enough for a class of students) with board approval next week. The district currently has about 2,000 Chromebooks for students, Hawkins said.
The board will be asked next Monday to approve two new learning and behavior disorders (LBD) teaching positions, while increasing hours for an occupational therapist and hiring a teacher for the hearing impaired.
The additional LBD teaching positions will allow the district to better meet the behavior needs of students at the middle and high schools next school year, according to Hawkins.
Approximately 20 middle school students and 30 high school students with behavioral management plans are anticipated next year, according to Director of Special Education Tracey Francis.
“We are being looked at as a model district for our elementary program, so we are looking to make sure we build that continuum across all grade levels,” Francis said.
Teachers across the school district are again being invited to participate in a Best Practice Academy. In June, Dr. Terry Scott will present on deescalating behaviors as part of an emphasis on providing support to students who have experienced trauma at some point in their young lives, said Director of Student Achievement Martha Jones.
Life Adventure Center will host sessions, including one led by Jessica Minahan, nationally-recognized for her work in reducing anxiety in children, Jones said. She said several sessions of the Best Practice Academy are “already just packed” because teachers are really excited about the topics.