Falmouth Outlook, April 26, 2016
School Board persists in keeping counselor
By Ed Salerno
Faced with dwindling student enrollment at Northern Elementary School (NES) the unfortunate result of which is sinking state-funding, Superintendent Anthony Strong was challenged by the Pendleton County School Board at the April 21 meeting not to cut a counselor’s position.
“Be creative,” suggested board member Jodi Bertram after raising the concern of where the money would come from to pay for this position. Dr. Strong, following a few moments reflection, stated that the school board could move money from the 320 Account, money set aside for purposes other than salaries, into the General Fund.
If the board approves the transfer, they could pay for a counselor at NES. He noted that there is yet time for things to turn around, the numbers are close, but if they needed to could make the transfer.
NES Principal Darrell Pugh, when asked by board member Dr. Shawn Nordheim where he stood, stated he would rather have a counselor than a teacher right now. He said, “If the assistant principal is my right hand, the counselor is my left.”
Board member Cheri Griffin remarked that she could not vote for the allocations as currently brought before the board without a counselor at NES included in the list.
Board member Elmer Utz asked, “What’s more important to the children? And, if we do not keep a counselor who will pick up the slack?”
Dr. Strong reiterated that all school counselors are important but he must live by the board’s staffing formula when it comes to financing those positions and, the numbers do not add up right now.
Dr. Nordheim put forward a suggestion to amend the current list of allocations and add-ons brought forward by Dr. Strong to include a full time counselor at NES.
Griffin made the motion to do so and Utz provided a second. The motion was approved.
Now all four schools have one full time counselor. However, Pendleton County High School (PCHS) and Sharp Middle School (SMS) each lost a half counselor.
Southern Elementary School Teacher Stephanie Dennaman was named the 2016 Pendleton County Service Teacher of the Year and Michelle Lustenburg, Gifted and Talented Teacher, was recognized for being inducted into the KUNA Advisor Hall of Fame.
Justin Huffman, a fifth grader at NES was named NES and Pendleton County’s winner of the AARP/Kentucky Retired Teachers Association Grandparent of the Year Essay Contest. This contest was for all fifth graders in the Kentucky.
A special recognition was awarded to Shannon Carey for her outstanding service as Pendleton County School Board Student Representative.
Dr. Nordheim, who helped establish this position on the board, was quite proud of Carey’s service as were all other board members and Dr. Strong with whom she has worked with effectively. Carey was also recognized for being a finalist for the Excellence in Education award to be presented on April 28 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.
Laura Pugh, executive director of Teaching and Learning, presented the instruction and curriculum report. The key point was a change in the way the state will be calculating the test scores this year. The rules have changed and the complications for the process of calculating test results have increased. To establish a base line from which future goals or targets are figured, the state recalculated last year’s tests with the new method. Those new figures were shared with the board so they could see how the new calculation method might affect results.
One might wonder if the children are being taught the necessary skills for success. There is an opportunity to express concerns regarding this issue at KyEdListens@education.ky.gov.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt said, “It is my goal to collaborate with legislators, educators, students and the public to produce a system that is fair, reliable, valid and easier to understand than what we have now.”
To gather information for this effort people are encouraged to email him.
Dr. Strong presented a 2016-17 budget update which contained tentative projections of revenue and expenditures for Pendleton County Schools. This document did not require any action by the board as it was informational. Strong also pointed out that there are no cuts in the state education budget. Pendleton County will receive fewer dollars in SEEK money due to the drop in enrollment.
Action was requested for approval of the Cincinnati Bell phone contract as presented by Michelle Crowley, chief information officer. She stated the contract must be signed during the e-rate window. There are no changes in the contract and nothing new to complete. The contract will be for two years. Strong recommended the board approve the contract. Griffin moved and Bertram provided a second. The board was unanimous in its approval.
The board took up the Twenty First Century Community Learning Grant (CLC) job descriptions as recommended by Dr. Strong. SES received a CLC grant of $250,000 to provide after school programs for students. NES and Sharp Middle School (SMS) will also have these grants. The following positions will need to be filled. They are program directo , audit tutor, pro- gram instructional assistant, academic enrichment high school aide and seasonal staff. Job descriptions and qualifications can be seen on the Pendleton County School website. All recommended positions were approved.
The board approved the amended calendar for the 2015-16 school year which included makeup days due to snow.
Dr. Strong recommended the board accept an auditor bid from Kelly, Galloway, Smith and Goolsby, PSC, as the auditor for the 2015-16 school year. Bertram wanted to know if there was any way the board could have that report before the tax vote. Jan Johnston, executive director of finance and personnel, said “We can ask but it is doubtful.” Dr. Nordheim wanted to be sure the board members had a copy as soon as it was ready to properly review it. Bertram moved to approve the auditor bid. A second was voiced by Griffin.
Strong stated that by law all employees must complete child abuse training. Attorney Matt DeMarcus noted that the Safe Schools Training Software, which the district has available to all staff, can be used for this purpose. Griffin moved to go ahead with the training and Bertram gave a second.
Superintendent Strong presented his list of district allocations and section seven add-on requests. Funds come from the state and it is the board’s task to determine how the funds are dispersed. The only allocation missing from the list was a counselor for NES. That issue was dealt with and all other allocations were approved.
At this time the board moved to executive session from which no decisions were forthcoming. The meeting was adjourned.