• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

School board to invite five architects to discuss facilities

Woodford County Board of Education Chair Ambrose Wilson IV informed board members Monday that he and schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins are working on a letter to be sent to five architectural firms to gauge their interest in working with the board on the district’s facility plan.

Board member Margie Cleveland asked if this has turned into an interview process for hiring a new architect. “That’s what it sounds like it’s turning into,” she said.

Wilson compared the process of asking architects to present their facility plan ideas to the board interviewing potential financial advisors. In August, the board hired Hilliard Lyons as its fiscal agent/financial advisor, which then informed the board that its bonding (borrowing) potential would increase from $23 million to $37 million if $600,000 in property tax revenue was restricted to the building fund.

Over the past couple of months, the board has discussed exploring options to upgrade the existing high school or build a new high school – possibly in phases. Those talks began after a special election in June when a majority of voter opposed a facilities tax to pay for a new high school.

Softball lease

The board voted 4 to 1 approving a 30-year lease agreement with the Kentucky Softball Foundation. A one-time payment of $30,000 will cover the construction costs of a concession stand with restroom facilities for a softball field (used by the high school team) in the County Park.

The upgrades will address Title IX issues related to providing equitable athletic facilities for high school students. A nearby baseball field in the County Park already has a concession stand with restroom facilities.

The district was due for its next Title IX site visit in January 2019, according to Hawkins. He said the equity issues related to the baseball and softball fields dates back to 2008.

Noting the possible ramifications of entering into a 30-year lease agreement, board Vice Chair Debby Edelen said, “I just wish that we had been talking about this (the Title IX issue) along the way, with maybe (considering) other options, since it’s been a problem for so long …” She said whenever a compliance issue such as this arises in the future, the board should be informed as soon as possible.

Since the high school does not have its own baseball and softball fields (both facilities are county owned), Hawkins described the lease agreement with the Kentucky Softball Foundation (KSF) as way to address the Title IX issue.

Edelen, who voted no to approving the lease, and Sherri Springate voiced their appreciation to the KSF for stepping up to help the school district on this equity issue.

School calendar

The board approved an instructional calendar for the 2019-20 school year, with Wilson voting no. Wilson spoke of his disappointment that neither calendar option would start the school year a week earlier last Monday. He argued that was the intent of state legislation mandating local boards of education receive two options for a school calendar.

The calendars given to local board members offered two choices for fall break: Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 or Oct. 4 to 11. The board chose to the earlier date for fall break.

The 2019-20 school year is scheduled to begin Thursday, Aug. 8, and end Wednesday, May 20, with winter break from Dec. 21 to Jan. 5 and spring break from March 30 to April 3.

Tax collections

The board authorized Hawkins and Edelen to talk with representatives of the Woodford County Sheriff’s Office about the actual expenses for collecting property taxes on behalf of the school district. Board members Karen Brock and Cleveland voted in opposition to the decision.

Simmons project

The board unanimously approved close-out construction documents for the installation of a security window at its entrance. Construction costs for the project completed by Eubank & Steele Construction was $9,200, according to information given to board members.

Natural gas bid

The board unanimously approved Constellation’s bid for natural gas, which “will get us the best price for our gas services,” Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith said.

The 36-month contract price will match the current price, according to bid tabulation information provided to board members.

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