Board approves Howard’s contract

By Mark Bell - For the Enterprise

Mike Howard

The Harlan County Board of Education has approved a three-year contract to Superintendent Mike Howard, whose current three-year deal ends in June.

The offer was approved during the board’s recent special meeting, and while the vote was not unanimous it was convincing at three in favor and none against with one abstention, Myra Mosley. Pam Sheffield was absent from the meeting.

Howard was hired in July 2012 after serving for several years as the district’s finance officer. His hiring coincided with a period of staff reductions brought on by funding losses and other financial challenges faced by the district.

With the district’s staffing issues largely stable since those early cutbacks were made, the board has turned its attention to improving the academic performance of its students and also addressing problems with increasingly aging elementary facilities within its limited budget.

During the same meeting, Brent Roark, assistant superintendent for curriculum, reported in greater detail on the results of the current K-PREP accountability data, or school report cards outlining academic performance on the standardized measures required by the state.

Saying he was “beyond pleased” with the current scores and noting the “great job” that had been done in many schools around the local system, Roark noted greater attention was also now being given to those schools and areas that continue to struggle and other that have not shown the level of expected improvement.

“We have our challenges still,” Roark said. “While we are pleased with the progress we are making, we are not yet where we want to be.”

Jack Miniard, director of food service, delivered the state’s recently completed administrative review of the child nutrition program. The results show Harlan County “led the nation” in the quality of and scope of its food program, citing in particular the benefits of the after-school supper and snacks.

Harlan County was the first school district in Kentucky to deliver an after-school meals program, Miniard said. It has proven so popular and successful that 140 school districts in the state now have such a program in place, he added.

The board also approved submitting a draft of the facilities plan to the Kentucky Department of Education for review. According to Board Chairman Gary Farmer, corrections are needed to roofing projects at Cumberland and Cawood, so the district’s facilities committee will need to meet one more time to approve these changes being required by the state.

In other action, the board:

* Approved the superintendent’s employment report of one certified hiring, along with 12 classified employments, one classified retirement, 12 classified resignations, and four classified transfers;

* Heard a report from Robert Walker from AireTech regarding “cost-effective maintenance” processes;

* Approved payment of claims totaling $754,099.66;

* Approved the monthly financial report and energy report;

* Declared a card catalog from Green Hills as surplus;

* Approved a reward trip for Evarts sixth-grade to Kings Island after school is dismissed for the year;

* Approved escrowing the first state technology fund offer of assistance in the amount of $31,564;

* Agreed to a shortened school day for four special education students;

* Approved the district’s FRYSCs to schedule free motivational assemblies;

* Held a 45-minute closed-door executive session to discuss two worker’s compensation settlement agreements, which were then approved in open session at amounts of $12,000 each;

* Approved the second reading of a revision to board policy removing outdated language;

* Set the next meeting for Nov. 19 in the Central Office.

Mike Howard Howard

By Mark Bell

For the Enterprise

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