Magoffin Co. administrators prepare for 2016-17 that will see opening of new high school, realignment of sixth-grade classes, improved policy on absences

Salyersville Independent, July 14, 2016

BOE prepares for beginning of school year
By Heather Oney

With less than a month until school is back in session, the Magoffin County School Board held a special-called meeting on Tuesday, July 12, discussing the upcoming school year.

Magoffin County Schools Superintendent Scott Helton updated the board, explaining that the new Magoffin County High School is currently being cleaned and furniture and teaching supplies will be moved in on July 25.

Helton said they are working on developing the bus schedule to incorporate the new school and the district will let parents know the changes once finalized.

He informed the board that several retirements have taken place at the district level and he said he is trying to combine and disburse some of the job duties without having to replace those positions. Helton said he is looking at trying to save $200,000, some of which will be able to go back to the schools.

The first day of school for students is slated for Thursday, August 11. Helton reminded the board that there are some changes within the school culture to keep in mind, noting that district-wide the sixth grade classes are moving to the middle school. With the high school relocating to the new school on the Parkway, the middle school will have a lot more room, occupying the old high school building (where they've been located since the 2012 tornado). The elementary schools will have to adjust to being Kindergarten through fifth grade, as well, he said.

"We're working so that we will be ready to hit the ground running come August 11," Helton said.

The board agreed to bid out for quotes of the cost of building a storage building at the Magoffin County High School Football Field for track equipment. Helton explained that the equipment that they purchased back in the spring is just sitting out, currently, and needs proper storage.

Helton made the board aware of the high school site base council's decision to abolish the carpentry teaching position and create a position for a certified teacher for a criminal justice program at the Magoffin County Career and Technical Center. Helton explained that they have the right to change the position, but when job duties and titles change, the board has to be made aware of potential funding changes. The board asked that Magoffin County High School Principal Tony Skaggs attend the next meeting to address the board's concerns, tabling the item until that time.

The board also approved the first reading of the board policy regarding changes to absences and excuses. Director of Pupil Personnel Brian Conley explained that the policy hadn't been amended since 2009 and he had requested changes that would provide clear communication across the board so absences and excuses can be handled consistently district-wide. He said the changes will allow the individual schools the ability to combat truancy, for instance, by being able to suspending parking privileges or participation in extracurricular activities.

By giving the students and parents the information at the beginning of the school year, Conley said he hopes they will be able to have clear communication of all potential penalties associated with absences.

He said the changes include incorporating a district-wide policy of allowing six parent note-excused absences per year for each student. Each parent note can cover two consecutive days.

Conley explained, "We always want to combat unexcused absences, but all absences hurt us," referring to SEEK funding, which is based on the average daily attendance, as well as instructional hours lost.

The Magoffin County School Board will meet, again, for their rescheduled regular meeting on Tuesday, July 26.

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