Wednesday, June 25, 2014

School board approves changes to board boundary lines

“Providence will get the bad end of that deal,” board member Venita Murphy

J-E News Editor
On Monday, Webster County School Board members addressed a proposed measure from Webster County Clerk Valerie Newell that would change board member boundary lines to match with recent changes to the county’s magisterial districts. 

“Each ten years we have a federal census,” Newell said during a May meeting with the board. “There are very strict rules that the county must go by.”
Following each federal census, county governments in Kentucky must realign their magisterial districts so that the populations of each are within ten percent of one another. In the last decade the population of Providence has declined, while the number of residents in the Slaughters area has grown. The result was that the Providence voting precincts were extended all the way to Highway 1069, just outside of Slaughters.
For the school board boundaries to be more closely aligned with the magisterial district, that means moving about 250 to 300 voters from the Slaughters and South Dixon voting precincts.
“What it does mean is that it will make the job easier for the county clerk’s office,” said interim superintendant Pete Galloway. “If it will make her job easier but doesn’t affect the board, I don’t see why you shouldn’t do it. That’s just being a good neighbor.”
Not all of the board members were in agreement. 
“You’re moving the lines of people who want to run for school board,” said Tim McCormick, the Clay area board member. “It’s not a big deal of Clay, but I can certainly see where it would be an issue in other parts of the county.”
“Providence will get the bad end of that deal,” said Providence board member Venita Murphy. “People from Slaughters and Dixon will be voting for the Providence school board person.”
“This is the first time Valerie has had to realign the districts,” said board attorney Brandi Rogers. “It will save a lot of money and work for the county, but that is a valid point about the voter change.”
In the end the board felt that the benefits of making the change outweighed the possible impact on the board members, voting 4-1 in favor of the measure. Murphy was the lone nay.
“I think we also have to look at the changes in the dynamics of the schools following the closing of Slaughters Elementary,” said board chairman Jeff Petit. “You have many kids from the outlying areas who are in Providence School now.”
In other business, Galloway introduced the board to the new start/end schedule for schools during the 2014-2015 school year. The state requires elementary schools to be in session for 1062 hours during the school year. That breaks down to 170 days of class at 380 minutes per day. Students will have 25 minute for lunch, 20 minutes for recess and 15 minutes for breakfast.
“The way we did breakfast before, students had a chance to eat breakfast before instruction began,” Galloway explained. The new changes will have them eating after schools starts, the reason, “ shorten the school day. This way, students don’t have to be at school any longer than they need to be.”
The new schedule for schools will be:
•Clay 7:40 a.m. - 3:10 p.m.
•Dixon 7:40 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
•Providence 7:40 a.m. - 3:10 p.m.
•Sebree 7:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
WCHS/WCMS 7:50 a.m. - 2:55 p.m.

“This has nothing to do with the teachers,” Galloway said. “The school board sets the time that the day starts and ends for teachers.”
He also pointed out that although students are under no obligation to eat breakfast at school, students in Providence and Sebree will be able to eat for free since those schools recently change to campus-wide free breakfast and lunch.
The board set their school board meeting schedule for the entire 2014-2015 school year, a departure from the long standing tradition of taking things a semester at a time. With the exception of the July 8, 2014 meeting (a Tuesday), all board meetings will be held on the second and fourth Mondays of the month at 5:30 p.m.
In other business, Galloway also reported that he had recently spoken with Kay Kennedy from the Kentucky Department of Education about the Slaughters Elementary building.
“That building continues to get older and older,” he said. “In the school business, when that happens, it becomes a liability. Unfortunately, since we still have bonded liability on that building, we can’t auction it off.”
The bonds also require the district to maintain utility and heating/air service in the building, although it has been empty for two years.

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