Webster Co. superintendent warns uncertainties about pension reforms are causing loss of "quality teachers" throughout the state

Sebree Banner, Sept. 27, 2017

Budget, Pension Concerns Facing Local School District


The Webster County Board of Education met in regular session on Monday. Superintendent Dr. Rachel Yarbrough and all board members were present.

During their hour long session, board members heard updates concerning the completion of the Webster County Middle School renovation, approved action items, recognized 1WC employees for September, and heard Dr. Yarbrough’s report concerning a variety of issues facing the local school system.

District treasurer Brandi Burnett updated the board concerning the 2017- 18 working budget. A forecast budget of $9,601,654 has been amended to four percent less, a total of $9,217,587.84.

Ms. Burnett told members the paving at Dixon Elementary School is completed and has been paid, and the fourth of six KSBIT Assessment installments have been paid.

The debt service for the school system remains the same in the upcoming fiscal year, and the system has a five percent contingency fund. That fund has increased from four percent in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Jeanie Cannon with RBS Design Group told board members the renovation work at Webster County Middle School is complete. She also updated the board on the roofing projects at Providence and Clay elementary schools.

In her report to the board, Dr. Yarbrough told members the system has been awarded a $625,000 federal drug-free communities grant over a five year period. (See separate story in this week’s paper). The pilot schools rates program, which has been implemented at Webster County High School and Sebree Elementary School, is expected to reduce utility costs about $10,000, according to Dr. Yarbrough.

The superintendent told members a 17.4% reduction in funding for the Kentucky Department of Education will total about $69.5 million for school systems across the state.

“We have frozen expenditures until we know the impact of this directive from the governor,” Dr. Yarbrough. She told the board the quality of education is not being affected, but expenditures are being approved by a district administrator until additional information can be received. A statewide informational session on Tuesday was expected to provide superintendents with at least a portion of that information.

Additionally, Dr. Yarbrough told members the pension questions in the state are having an affect on teachers across the state. A special legislative session is expected to be convened in November to address pension reform.

“There is a lot of dialog and concern,” Dr. Yarbrough said. “We are losing quality teachers (throughout Kentucky) because of this uncertainty.”

She noted new teachers coming into the profession will certainly not have the same benefit packages that have existed in the past. She also told the board the system will also be affected by additional funding for the County Employees Retirement System, which will include classified employees locally.

The impact of that funding, which could amount to more than $200,000 annually, will become more clear as decisions are made by Governor Matt Bevin and the Kentucky Legislature.

The school calendar for 2018-19 has been set, and nominations for the Kentucky School Boards Association board of directors are due by November 15.

Dr. Yarbrough noted there will be no changes to the school staffing allocations at the present time.

The first round of instructional walk-throughs at the local schools begin in October. Three walkthroughs are held each academic year.

At the conclusion of her report, Dr. Yarbrough emphasized, “We are continuing to create great learning opportunities for our students.”

Board members approved the personnel report and several consent items, including board minutes, field trips, leaves of absence, memorandums of agreement with Henderson Community College for dual credit courses and the Commonweal of Kentucky for an Instructional Transformation grant, the superintendent’s out of district travel, and monthly reports.

A payment of $1,153.64 to Associated Engineers was approved for completion of special inspections at the middle school. Additionally, payments of $855.00 and $415.52 were approved for inspections concerning the WCMS renovation.

The final pay application to Q & S Contracting for the WCMS renovation was approved in the amount of $222,575.57. Payments of $93,898.67 to Bruce’s Tri-State Roofing for the roofing project at Clay Elementary School and $93,555.43 for the Providence Elementary School roofing project were approved.

The board adjourned to a closed session to conduct six student discipline hearings.

Upon returning to the open meeting, the following decisions were released: Student 1961914767 is suspended with services for the remainder of the 2017 semester. Student may return to the school classes in January 2018.

Student 2120542887 is suspended with services for the remainder of the school year. Student may return to the alternative school at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

Student 2120543979 is suspended without services for the remainder of the school year bases on safety concerns with regard to other students. Student must comply with terms when returning to school at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

Student 1945302766 is suspended without services for the remainder of the school year due to threats to the safety of schoolstaff. Student must return Chromebook to Webster County Board of Education office by Friday, September 29.

Student 1962250450 is suspended with services for the remainder of the school year. Student may return to the alternative school at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

Student 2120632100 is suspended without services for the remainder of the school year due to safety concerns with regard to other students.

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