Magoffin Co. board OKs purchases of new buses, emergency defibrillators for schools, sports fields; officials discuss options for improving student attendance

Salyersville Independent, Oct. 28, 2016

School board buys AEDS, new buses
by Heather Oney

The Magoffin County School Board met in regular session on Thursday, October 20, approving the purchase of three new buses and awarding a bid that will replace the lighting at the Magoffin County Career and Technical Center.

Community member, Brent Patrick, addressed the board, explaining that he would like to donate money and start a program that would provide incentive items for students with perfect attendance, starting at the high school level.

Magoffin County Schools Superintendent Scott Helton said the school system cannot legally manage the program, but advised Patrick to collaborate with Director of Pupil Personnel Brian Conley to determine how collected donations could best benefit the students.

In his monthly finance report, Finance Director Kevin Owens told the board that they had received a check, totaling at $17,000, from AEP for the energy efficiency steps taken in the construction of the new high school.

Bill Cobb, the construction manager of the new high school project, explained that they are going through the punch list of items needing attention and urged the school officials to let them know while they are still in the warranty period if anything else needs addressed.

Mike Sparkman, with the architectural firm Alt32, said he has designed a guardrail for the second floor in front of the media center, which he will work with the contractor to get installed.

Superintendent Helton said that the students and staff are proud of the building and he has seen great things going on at the high school as they utilize the entire building, thanking the construction and design teams for working with them.

DPP Brian Conley reported the three-month average daily attendance is running at 94.24 percent. Herald Whitaker Middle School has roughly a 95 percent attendance rate, which he commended. District-wide, he said Magoffin County School as 2,049 students enrolled, or 2,186 including Head Start students.

Conley said they are looking at incentives for perfect attendance, as well as how to cut back on excused absences.

"So far this year we have had 2,010 doctors' notes and 860 parents' notes and those are all excused absences," Conley said. "We always focus on unexcused absences, but we can't just look at the muddy part. It's all absences."

In his superintendent report, Helton told the board that the district office now has a sign out front celebrating that the district ranked as proficient in the last round of testing, which was a first for the district. He said he has met with principals and central office staff and they are working to align the curriculum with the teachers.

"We're analyzing the results so we can work smarter, not harder," Helton said.

The board approved to surplus the Spanish books at the high school. Helton explained that the teacher was using a different curriculum, now, and the books were not being used, and he has already received an offer to purchase the books.

The board unanimously approved the purchase of automated external defibrillators for all five schools, as well as for the football and track complex, spring sports complex, and for the district office.

They approved the purchase of three buses for the 2017-2018 school year, including air conditioning and buying one of each size option. Currently, there are approximately 15 buses still in use that are at least 17 years old and Helton said they had to start somewhere in order to begin replacing the old fleet of buses.

The board awarded the bid to Williams Electric for material only to replace the lighting at the Magoffin County Career and Technical Center. They will receive a rebate for 50 percent of the cost and they will use district staff to install the lighting.

School Board Member Jesse Rudd II acknowledged his appreciation for the Operation School Shoe program, which has provided new shoes to Magoffin County students before the first day of school for the past two years. He said in 2015 they brought the program to Magoffin, with a goal of raising $3,000 and buying 100 pairs of shoes for students in the county, but they were able to raise $6,000 and purchase 200 pairs of shoes. This year they raised $10,000 and bought 500 pairs of shoes.

"I commend those volunteers for providing these for our kids," Rudd said.

Board Chairman Rodney Ward expressed appreciation to the staff, parents and students for their work in reaching the milestone of being a proficient district.

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