The Harlan County Board of Education has chosen to recognize the talents of a local celebrity by renaming a section of Harlan County High School in his honor.
During Thursday’s regular meeting, the board accepted Superintendent Mike Howard’s recommendation to name the section of the building housing the music and theater programs as the “Jordan Smith Performing Arts Wing.”
The board hopes to present a certificate or plaque commemorating this action to Smith during his next visit to Harlan, scheduled for Feb. 25, to attend the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala at The Harlan Center.
Smith earned this distinction by being the winner of season nine on NBC’s The Voice, in the process setting sales records for new recording artists and among Christian artists on both iTunes and Billboard charts.
Smith’s success has been a source of civic pride all across the county and spawned renewed attention on the benefit of arts and music education in the local schools, including support recently voiced by members of the county school board.
Specific plans regarding the installation of signage inside or outside the school or any redecorations that might be needed were not discussed.
The board also approved spending $50,000 to purchase property near Cawood Elementary School in order to expand parking and improve safety.
The approval allows Gary Farmer as board chairman to sign and execute the deed, and permits the district to go ahead and pay expenses for the appraisal, surveying and legal title search work that has been performed to this point.
Board Attorney Johnnie Turner said deed action remained “in process.”
In preparation for next year’s budget, the board was required to approve and submit its proposed staffing plan for 2016-17 to the state by March 1. Howard said the only change from prior year was moving “all principals” to year-round status rather than the current system which designates that level only for leaders of the largest schools.
Board member Wallace Napier asked if the proposed staff allocations included the agriculture education program planned for the high school. Howard said it did not and that the new program would require separate budgeting once the expected grant funds were in place. Staff allocations could then be made based on those numbers, though Howard said the high school “is planning for it now.”
In other action, the board:
• Accepted the superintendent’s employment report of four certified employments, one transfer and one retirement; and one classified employment, two transfers and two resignations;
• Recognized Wallace Napier for completion of Level IV Kentucky School Boards Association Academy of Studies;
• Recognized Brenda Henson for completion of Level V KSBA Academy of Studies;
• Recognized James A. Cawood Elementary for saving $46,000 as recorded on their most recent energy report;
• Approved correspondence related to food service’s chef grant;
• Heard school performance and improvement reports from Black Mountain principal Bonnie Lefevers, Cawood principal Melinda Sergent, and Janie Feher, who was substituting for Cumberland principal Sheila Hall;
• Tabled action on a series of orders and plans from the architect and contractors concerning the high school’s athletic facilities projects;
• Agreed to pay claims totaling $1,173,269.36;
• Gave permission to advertise for bids for maintenance supplies;
• Approved an out of state trip the high school baseball team;
• Approved a job description and extra service pay schedule for the junior chef coach position;
• Approved the junior chef competition;
• Approved school food service contracts for 2016-2017;
• Accepted holding cabinet bids for school food services;
• Approved Wallins first- and second-grade classes for an out of state trip to the Knoxville Zoo;
• Approved Green Hills eighth-grade for a trip to Pigeon Forge;
• Approved Wallins eighth-grade for a trip to Cincinnati;
• Approved the Upward Bound math science program for an out of state trip to Norton, Virginia;
• Held a second reading rescinding a board policy regarding preschool education.