Impact of "hidden treasure" - schools' FRYSCs - detailed for Woodford Co. board; students needs continue to grow, but so do services

Woodford Sun, Versailles, June 22, 2016

Many families helped by school resource centers
by Bob Vlach

The number of elementary school students and their families who receive and qualify for services from Woodford County Public Schools' Family Resource Centers (FRCs) has steadily climbed in recent years, director of staff/student services Garet Wells told school board members on Monday night.

About 45 percent of the district's elementary school students qualified for free lunches and FRC services this year. Only about 30 percent qualified when Wells began his tenure as director of staff/student services six years ago, he said.

Linda Tilghman, coordinator of the Family Resource Centers at Northside and Simmons elementary schools, said many of support services provided to students and their families are only possible because of the school district's community partners.

With the support of local churches, the FRCs at Northside and Simmons elementary schools provide weekend backpacks to 135 students so they do not miss a meal on Saturdays and Sundays. Additional support from the Midway and Versailles Masonic lodges ensures families have food in their homes during Christmas break and other extended periods when students are not in school.

An annual Community Christmas ensures students from low-income families are not forgotten during the holiday season. The number of children who received gifts and attended the annual Christmas party has climbed from 103 kids in 1996 to 558 kids this past year. "So the need has gone up," Tilghman said.

The Woodford County Woman's Club ensures less-fortunate children in elementary schools have coats and shoes to wear, and local homemakers ensure they have school supplies - donated from people in the community - when a new school year begins and throughout the school year.

Additionally, officers from the Versailles Police Department participate in outreach programs in local parks so kids know "there's always somebody out there that can help them," said Tilghman.

"Relatives as Parents" or RAP group offers supportive services and resources to local families who are raising grandchildren, nieces, nephews or other school-age relatives when - for whatever reason - they are not being raised by a parent, said Lindsay Nation, coordinator of the Family Resource Centers at Huntertown and Southside elementary schools.

With the assistance of the local Extension service, school guidance counselors and others in the community, a RAP kickoff was held for Woodford County families in December 2015. Guest speakers talked about the benefits of being a part of a support group and "answered questions, which I think the people (who were there) really appreciated," said Nation. "Because a lot of them feel like they're on their own. They're the only person that's raising a grandchild when really there's a lot out there." She said 57,141 children in Kentucky are living in grandparent-headed households and another 12,294 children are living in the homes of other relatives.

The monthly "Relatives as Parents" group meetings will begin again in the fall at the Woodford County Public Library, with programs for children offered on those nights as well, Nation said.

She said 17 different families participated in last year's "Relatives as Parents" monthly group meetings.

Meanwhile, a partnership with St. Andrew's Anglican Church has led to "Avanza," a weekly tutoring program for English Language Learners.

Forty-eight ELL students from Huntertown Elementary participated in Avanza last school year, with the support of 20 to 30 church volunteers. "So it really would not be possible without them," said Nation. "They are really dedicated."

Avanza has been in existence for four years.

"There are always people asking what they can do to help," said Nation. "And that's definitely an amazing thing about working in a community like this."

She and Tilghman were lauded by Wells and school board members for their ongoing efforts to maintain community partnerships nurtured during Tilghman's 25 years of service with the Family Resource Center serving Northside and Simmons elementary schools.

"You're one of our hidden treasures," said board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV of the support services offered through FRC because of their dedication. "I don't think a lot people know all that you do."

HVAC, other projects

The board approved revised project documents for the HVAC system replacement projects at Northside and Southside elementary schools, which reflect a savings of about $96,000 in the contingency fund. An approved change order adds a cost of $2,899 for additional ceiling grout.

A $28,000 bid was less than what was budgeted for the Southside Elementary
and bus garage paving projects. With the Kentucky Department of Education's approval, the savings recouped on the projects can be used to cover a higher-than-anticipated bid to install a new fire alarm system at Woodford County High School, Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith said.

With the $10,000 in overall savings on those projects, the board can now spend $7,800 to reseal and re-stripe the parking lot at Huntertown Elementary this summer.

The board approved a bid to install new public address systems at Northside and Southside at a cost of $23,000.

Only one bid (from Alliant Integrators) was received on the project, but the lone bid was well below an estimate of $47,000.

Construction funds were previously approved for the project.

The board will be asked to approve a project application form to purchase a wheelchair swing for Southside Elementary at its regular meeting next Monday night.

The wheelchair swing (and site work) will allow students with physical disabilities to play on the playground with other students.

Claudia Godbey, director of special education, told board members that Southside Elementary houses the district's moderate to severe disability students so that's where the need exists now. The wheelchair swing will be used by at least six special education students next school year, Godbey said.

According to the project application form, the wheelchair swing will cost $14,055.

Financial report

Woodford County Public Schools began May with a total cash balance of $14.9 million and ended the month with $13.56 million, according to Smith's
financial report.

A transfer of $69,937.50 from the building fund to the debt service fund was made for a bond payment. Also, an expenditure of $4,220 from the adult education operations fund covered the cost of purchasing signs to promote the adult education program. The fund ended the month with a balance of $714.88.

As requested by the board, the financial report showed a balance of $48,133.87 in the district activities fund for an insurance fund to cover costs associated with making repairs or replacing tablet computers that are provided to students in the district's one-to-one initiative.

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