• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Hiring more school resource officers discussed

Legislative action to reduce budget cuts for public school districts next school year will allow the Woodford County Board of Education to use those dollars to cover the cost of five additional school resource officers and other programs.

No action was taken at Monday’s work session, but board members learned that legislative action to restore dollars for transportation costs based on per-student (SEEK) funding and a reduction in next year’s district contribution to the non-teaching retirement system will free-up $618,000 in next school year’s budget.

Based on prior conversations with board members and people in the community during a safety forum, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins said additional dollars are available to hire five more school resource officers so every school in the district has an SRO next school year.

At an estimated cost of $225,000, hiring retired law enforcement officers to fill those positions will save the district money when compared to current SROs, who are employees of the Versailles Police Department assigned to the middle and high schools on a contractual basis, Hawkins said.

“They don’t have the staffing to be able to free up five more officers,” he responded when asked why the district wouldn’t use local VPD officers. He added he’s hopeful retired local officers will be interested in the additional SRO positions.

If the board approves proposed revisions in next school year’s budget, dollars could also be spent to cover the cost of hiring an additional nurse ($50,000) so every school (except Safe Harbor Academy) has a fulltime nurse, and restore funding for a first year teacher support program ($50,000), as well as professional development and instructional resource dollars ($150,000) for all teachers, which are not included in next year’s state budget, Hawkins said.

He noted that Gov. Matt Bevin’s original state budget included cutting 70 public school programs.

School tax campaign

The board voted to spend $5,000 on a campaign to get the word out about the upcoming special election to give voters an opportunity to vote for or against a proposed facilities tax to pay for a new high school. The allocation will pay for yard signs, bumper stickers, wrist bands and other materials to promote the election on June 26.

The board agreed to have an official kickoff for its campaign on Sunday, May 20, at 4 p.m., on the campus where a new high school will be located, adjacent to Woodford County Middle School along Falling Springs Boulevard.

Also, the board agreed to have its first tour of the Woodford County High School building Saturday, May 5, from 10 to 11 a.m. A tour will give people in the community who do not have children at the high school an opportunity to see what the inside of that building looks like, said board Vice Chair Debby Edelen.

While no firm dates were set, the board also agreed to host two public forums and additional tours of the current high school before June 26.

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