|By Al Owens
Meeting in regular
session last week the Lewis County Board of Education heard a presentation from Billie Jo
Thornsberry, president of the Lewis County Education Association, regarding the teacher
health insurance problem in Kentucky.
Thornsberry pointed out that the total cost of health insurance for educators in
Kentucky is lower than in most neighboring states but is the only place where the teachers
pay more of the premium than the state government does.
For example, in Illinois the total cost is $1,096. There the teacher pays $207 and the
state pays $889. In Kentucky the total cost is only $897 but the teacher or employee pays
$540, and the state only pays $287.
Thornsberry told the board that her organization wants the board to remain informed, to
support the teachers and all other school employees and to consider what the board can do
to alleviate the situation.
She concluded her remarks by saying that if the Kentucky General Assembly doesn't find
a solution to the problem that Lewis County will be without some teachers when the KEA
called strike begins on Wednesday, October 27. She clarified that the strike will be
called off if an acceptable insurance plan is put in place before that date.
Superintendent Maurice Reeder Jr. told Thornsberry and the board that earlier in the
day he had received an e-mail update on the General Assembly's progress. He said that the
legislators worked over the weekend to find a solution, and good progress has been made.
Reeder stated, "Everyone knows this is not a good health bill, and the legislature
and the Governor are the ones that need to be doing what they are doing right now."
He added that the legislators plan to have a new and improved insurance plan set up by
the middle of next week and hopefully a strike can be averted.
Reeder emphasized that local school boards have no input in the proceedings.
The superintendent told Thornsberry that the board would continue to work with the
teachers and hoped the local KEA would work with the board.
Turning to other matters Reeder informed the board that the Department of Facilities
went ahead and approved the BG1 for the Tollesboro Elementary project in spite of the fact
that the bonding money will not be released until the state has a budget. That means that
the board can go ahead and so some preliminary things and have them in order so the school
can go ahead with the project once the state has a budget. The action could save as much
as three months of time in getting the work started.
Reeder told the board that on October 1, the first day of fall break, Tim Crawford, an
attorney for the School Board Association, came in and did six of the 12 hours of required
evaluation training with the Central Office Staff and all the principals and assistant
principals in the district.
He announced that the Veterans Day Ceremony will be held on Thursday, November 11, at
the high school beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Belinda Forman told the board that the district had portfolios audited at two
elementary schools, and the state changed no scores. She said that we were really pleased
that our scoring was right where it should be.
She confirmed that three of the elementary schools scored 100 percent proficient on
The details could not be given at the board meeting because the state had not yet
officially released the information.
Reeder also said that test scores would be released later, and that the staff looks
forward to talking about those scores. Although he could not give the details because the
scores are embargoed until the state releases them he was hinting that the scores are
|Forman reported that the core programs for
the Reading First Grant have been implemented at Central and Garrison Elementary Schools
and the schools have already started supplemental intervention programs based on
assessment, and those kids have already gone through a series of testing.
She said that
Central Elementary was chosen to be a national impact study, and the staff is excited
The district is getting ready to file for a reimbursement of $320,000 under the grant.
That will be the first reimbursement, and is quite a bit of money for those programs.
The board approved the use of the Kentucky State Police canine drug unit in the Lewis
Elden Riffe, the District Resource Safety Officer, explained the safety measures taken
to keep the children away from the dogs during the drug searches.
He also said that the district tries to have the KSP canine unit in three times a year.
Sometimes they show up unannounced. The dogs check the lockers, the vehicles in the
parking lots and some classrooms.
Before the dogs enter a classroom the officers have the students leave their book bags
in the room and then go to another room where they won't be near the dogs.
If the dogs hit a locker or vehicle they are marked and then checked for marijuana or
illegal prescription drugs.
The canine unit came to the high school, the middle school and the alternative school
on August 17 but no drugs were found, and that's the desired result.
Riffe said that drugs have been found in the past but none have been found this year.
The action is an effort to keep drugs out of the schools and to help any children that
might be abusing narcotics.
The board approved the annual entry into the Limestone Academic League.
In quick succession the board also approved the non-resident contracts for students
from other counties that attend classes in Lewis County and for local students that attend
school in other counties.
Kevin Duff explained that Lewis County has an any-and-all contract with all the
neighboring districts except Mason County. With them the local district has a one-for-one
contract. That means that the districts get paid for the students that come to their
The board approved the working budget for the school year. This is the third time the
board has considered this year's budget, and this is the final draft.
Reeder said that money was tight and the budget has no extra money in it.
He explained that the amount paid for salaries was about the same as last year, but the
district had fewer teachers because of the state mandated raises for the teachers. The
SEEK funds also decreased by about $200,000. Everything else is about the same as last
Reeder said that last year the budget just exceeded $12 million, but this year it is
slightly under $12 million.
The board approved the subsurface investigation for the Tollesboro Elementary project.
Bowser Morner, Inc. of Lexington had the lowest bid at $3,860. They will drill in the
ground to see what kinds of material are under the surface that would affect the digging
for foundations, etc.
The board also approved the BG4 for the middle school project. This is the final
document for the project and informs the state that all the bills have been paid and all
the required certificates are in place. The action closes out that project.