The McCreary County Record


March 6, 2014

School board splits on insurance

Discusses ways to strengthen anti-bullying policy

STEARNS —  Thursday’s meeting of the McCreary County Board of Education opened to a standing-room-only crowd as board members recognized the McCreary County Middle School Academic Team, which is sending eight students to the state Governor’s Cup Competition next week in Louisville after placing second in overall district competition and third at regionals.

    The school board also heard from Shane Skaggs of Pine Knot Intermediate School’s Save the Children program, which is serving 115 students this year in the literacy program. Featuring in-school and after-school components, Save the Children also offers health activities for its participants.

    Board members unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding to formally establish the Mary E. Bryant Scholarship Fund. McCreary County Schools Superintendent Arthur D. Wright recognized Jay Bryant, who recently donated $85,000 to establish the fund in honor of his mother who was a school cook. The agreement establishes a committee to oversee the scholarship, comprised of the donor, McCreary Central High’s site based decision making council, guidance counselors and finance officer. Wright said that scholars would receive have of their award to attend their first semester at any accredited school, with the remainder to be distributed if the scholar maintains a 2.5 GPA.

    The agenda called for presentations from two insurance agencies. The first was delivered by Buddy Wilson of Crabtree Wilson Insurance Agency, who asked the board for permission to obtain quotes for Property & Liability Insurance as well as Workers Compensation. Wilson noted that the district is not required to bid for insurance every year.

    “I promise you I will shop around and bring you the best available quote,” Wilson told the board.

    Board chair Nelda Gilreath moved not to grant Wilson an agent of record letter with vice-chair Roxanne Shook seconding, but the board voted that down in favor of Debbie Gibson’s motion for Wilson to serve as the district’s agent. Gibson’s motion was seconded by Brandon Kidd with the deciding aye vote cast by Larry Davis.

    The vote then rendered moot a presentation from Nease Lukens Insurance Agency.

    Board members were also asked to choose one of three KSBIT (Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust) Assessment repayment options. In January 2013, KSBIT announced a more than $50 million deficit which all members would have to cover. The McCreary County Board of Education was initially assessed for a total of $741,325 to be a repaid through a 20-year bond at $53,852.

    However, a lawsuit may ultimately result in districts having to pay more. The Kentucky League of Cities put $8 million into the Trust which KLC contends is a loan that must be repaid. The presiding judge wanted a poll of which repayment assessment districts preferred: the initial KISBIT assessment, a state Department of Insurance Assessment, or the KLC assessment including a share of the $8 million surplus note.

    Local board members opted for the KISBIT assessment, which is the least expensive. However, district accounting manager Kristi Sizemore stressed that none of the options are set in stone.

    The meeting ended with a discussion regarding the district’s Bullying Policy and Procedures. Gibson asked for the issue to be placed on the agenda after researching other districts.

    “We need to elaborate on what we’ve got,” she said. “Our policy is vague.”

    Gibson went on to say that the existing policy doesn’t do enough in regard to accountability and following up on bullying reports. She recounted hearing of one incident in which a student was attacked by five others only to be told to “smack them back.”

    Roger Owens of Champions/ UNITE for a Drug Free McCreary County noted that his group recently added an anti-bullying curriculum which he has presented at Pine Knot Intermediate and Whitley City Elementary. Owens reported that there has been some progress, though many younger students didn’t realize the consequences of bullying.

    Supt. Wright reported that he had met with each school’s administrators. While commending district staff for their current procedures, he noted that the meeting did produce some recommendations to fill policy gaps such as additional training and cameras for school buses.

    Wright also said he would confer with board attorney Winter Huff as well as principals to help shore up the policy, adding that the district could seek a Kentucky Safe Schools Assessment. He noted that Owens as well as agencies such as Adanta and Phoenix would be invited to the next principals’ meeting.

    Shook moved to follow Wright’s recommendation, which Kidd voted against because he felt the administration should also meet with parents of students who are affected by bullying. He also asked Huff to address board policy regarding what parents or other concerned citizens must do to be heard at a board meeting.

    Huff agreed to look at the policy but noted that the board cannot handle personnel matters and must protect student confidentiality.

    In other business, the board approved several contracts for the 2014-15 school year. Board members awarded a dark fiber bid to Access Cable, month-to-month cellular service to Bluegrass Cellular and long distance phone service to Highland Telephone Cooperative (with HTC employee Shook abstaining). They also contracted with Ross Tarrant Architects to replace a coal-fired boiler at McCreary County Middle School with a gas-fired one.

    The next meeting of the McCreary County Board of Education has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 27.

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Brandi S. Stephens

Brandi S. Stephens

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