Wednesday, November 12, 2014

School board discusses future of board attorney position

J-E News Editor
Webster County School Board members began discussion on Monday of how to proceed with finding a replacement for Board Attorney Brandi Rogers, who was elected to the 5th Judicial Circuit, 2nd Division Circuit Family Court Judge’s position during last week’s election.

“The policy does not address how to handle it if there is a vacancy,” said Rogers, who was hired as the school board attorney in July of 2013. “Roy Massey from my law office will be filling that position in my other school district until the end of the contract.”
Rogers pointed out that Massey already worked in her law firm in Marion (Frazers, Rogers and Peak) and was familiar with what she had been doing as board attorney. Massey has been an associate with Frazer, Rogers & Peek since 2010.
“There might me some positives, moving forward through this time, to use someone that has worked with Brandi,” said superintendent Dr. Rachel Yarbrough. “It might be wise, in transition, to stay with somebody from that firm.”
“The way I see it, we have two options,” said board chairman Jeff Pettit. “If we want can go through the application process and hire someone we could. Or if we want to hire another attorney until then we could. There is nothing in the policy to prevent us from doing that.”
According to the existing policy, the school board attorney contract runs from July 1 through June 30.
The question was raised about the nature of Rogers’ contract with the board. In Crittenden County the school board was contracted with the law firm, but she thought that Webster County had signed the contract with her personally. If the contract is with the firm rather than with Rogers, there will be no need to seek new representation until the end of the contract.
In other business, Chris Driver, Account Manager with Harshaw Trane, was in attendance on Monday to discuss the district’s energy savings contract. Two years ago the board entered into a contract with Trane to update the energy usage plan in the district. 
The project cost $2,922,000, but Trane guaranteed the district energy savings of at least $102,000 per year over twenty years. For the first year actual savings were $119,468.
Through the project both Dixon Elementary and Providence Elementary have become EnergyStar compliant.
WCHS principal Tara Howard presented the board with information on a program called Advance Kentucky. The program looks to expand participation and success in rigorous college-level work through Advance Placement (AP) courses.
Although WCHS has not been participating in Advance Kentucky, the program has been on the minds of educators since it was introduced to the board last fall. During that time, according to Howard, the district has seen enrollment in AP classes grow from 39 in the 2013-2014 school year to 129 this year.
“Long term studies show that AP students graduate from high school at a higher rate and with higher GPAs than other students,” said Howard. “The average student involved in AP goes on to have a college GPA of 2.77, while those not involved average 2.37.”
Howard points out that this is very important because the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) money requires students to maintain at least a 2.5 in college to keep their money.
She explained that Advance Kentucky goes further than just making AP classes available to more students, it provides extra training for teachers and gives both teachers and students incentives to work harder.
“They offer $100 to students for every qualifying AP score,” Howard said. “Teachers also get that. For every qualifying student, the teacher also gets a check for $100.”
She said that at her previous school, which was involved with Advance Kentucky, she handed out nearly $12,000 in checks to high school students that were involved in AP classes.

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