Sentinel-News, Shelbyville, Dec. 21, 2016
Teachers share SnoGo concerns
By Ashley Sutter
Shelby County High School teacher and Shelby County Educators Association president Cyndi Powell Skellie approached the Shelby County Board of Education Thursday during its regular meeting and spoke on behalf of the SCEA, informing the district of concerns teachers have expressed regarding the newly introduced SnoGo days.
The district announced earlier this year that the first snow day that would normally cancel school would instead be a non-traditional instructional day, called SnoGo, affording students the opportunity to compete work from home, rather than having to make up the day at the end of the school year.
But Skellie said the teachers and faculty members have expressed to her their frustration regarding mixed information concerning non-traditional days.
Skellie said there has been a general inconsistency in communication of the plan from school to school.
“Some teachers were told that they could bring children if they couldn’t find childcare, other teachers were told they had to make it up if they could not make it into the building. Some teachers were told that they could make it up at the end of the year; some were told they could work from home just depending on the weather and the needs of the building and the school, the teacher and what the principal thought; some people were told they would work with them on an individual basis. And so there was just some inconsistency,” she said.
“We would just like a cohesive, consistent message put out to teachers and maybe make sure that parents and students also get the same message – that would be wonderful.”
Skellie said teachers have also expressed worry about safety issues regarding sidewalks and parking lots, as well as the roads they will need to travel if required to come into the buildings.
“If roads were too bad for students to make it in, how is that different for staff,” she asked.
Concerns were also raised regarding bus drivers and other classified staff, such as food service personnel and whether or not they would be compensated for those days.
Additional questions and concerns were raised but because the format of public input does not allow for such, no response was immediately provided.
Denise Keene, CPA, presented the 2015-16 audit report to the board and said the district received an unmodified opinion on the report.
“You have the best opinion that’s available in an audit,” Keene said.
Keene noted one concern – the unfunded pension liabilities which were reported for the first time last year.
“Your general fund has $14.7 million in unfunded pension liability, that’s just for your general,” Keene said, noting there was an additional $1.8 million in food service.
“It’s a rather large unfunded liability,” she said. “I don’t get overly excited about that on a day-to-day operating basis because it’s not going to effect how you budget things, but long term for your employees, it has significant concerns.”
Keene said the matter is only going to get worse and currently Kentucky Teachers Retirement System is projecting to only have enough to pay retirement through 2039. “Who knows what’s going to happen after that,” she said.
But Keene said the district is doing well with budgeting and showed $755,000 in revenues in excess of expenditures.
“You did a very good job in monitoring expenditures and keeping your fund balance in good shape,” she said.
Last year the district had 41 management letter points, thirty of which were corrected, leaving 11 repeats.
“I feel assured that most of them will be corrected this year. I will be shocked if all of them are. But I hope I don’t see any three-peats,” Keene said. “Those are the ones that I really do not want to see repeated.”
Also at the meeting, the board:
Recognized two students, Matthew Munsterman and Chris Embry for their approval of an intellectual design patent for their robotic programming. The students shared that they designed a program that would record a robots commands, record its own coding and then play it back. They met with the Project Lead The Way CEO who encouraged them to patent their idea.
Approved the utility easement for North Shelby Water on property between West Middle and Painted Stone owned by Shelby County Board of Education. The board will receive a water meter that will help provide necessary water services for the recreational area of this property.
Approved the Comprehensive District Improvement Plan.
Approved the recognition of the Collins Vex Robotics Booster Club for 2016/17 and its fundraising plan.
Approved monthly financial report.
Heard in a report from student representative Jake Waford that he would like to integrate non-voting student members on the high school SBDM councils.
Went into a closed session for the purpose of discussing proposed or pending litigation.